Tuesday, May 3, 2016

4/18-4/24/2016: BLAZIN'

"In real life, we face actual, not imagined, hardships. There is
pain--physical, emotional, and spiritual. There are heartbreaks when
circumstances are very different from what we had anticipated. There
is injustice when we do not seem to deserve our situation. There are
disappointments when someone we trusted failed us. There are health
and financial setbacks that can be disorienting. There may be times of
question when a matter of doctrine or history is beyond our current
When difficult things occur in our lives, what is our immediate
response? Is it confusion or doubt or spiritual withdrawal? Is it a
blow to our faith? Do we blame God or others for our circumstances? Or
is our first response to remember who we are--that we are children of
a loving God? Is that coupled with an absolute trust that He allows
some earthly suffering because He knows it will bless us, like a
refiner’s fire, to become like Him and to gain our eternal
inheritance?" (Elder Donald L. Hallstrom, I Am a Child of God, April
2016 General Conference)

It had never really occurred to me that the solution to most of my
problems and trials in life could be to remember who I am- a literal
son of God. The trails and tribulations that we face in life are hard;
and often times they cause us to loose hope. However, if we remember
that we have a Father in Heaven who loves us more than we can even
imagine, we can also remember that he only allows us to have those
trials, temptations, and tribulations that are going to help us grow.
He doesn't give us anything that we can't handle, as it says in 1
Corinthians 10. All the hardships we face in life are to "prove [us]
herewith, to see if [we] will do all things whatsoever the Lord their
God shall command [us]" (Abraham 3:25). The purpose of this life is
for it to be hard, so that in the life to come we can become like our
Heavenly Father. It works, we can overcome those hard things, as you
remember who you are and why you are here.

Had a pretty sweet preparation day today. Started out with a little
bowling with the zone- something else that I am getting better at
besides ping-pong. I scored a 108 twice today! Practice, practice,
practice, right? After that we went to the stake center and then went
to the park next to the stake center and played some whiffle-ball,
some fun party games (ninja, infection tag, signs, etc.), and we threw
around a football a little bit. The zone leaders went and got some
kites, and so a few sister and elders flew those. It was a nice sunny,
warm day out, and the wind was blowing just enough to make it
basically a perfect day in the park.
Exhausted, dehydrated, and maybe even a little bit sunburned, after
like 3-4 hours we decided it was time to head back to the church to
cool off a little bit before we had to get back to missionary work.
Also, Elder Hansen, Elder Hatton, Sister Hodgson, and I had to
practice a little bit for the musical thing we are going to do for the
relief society. Or at least... That's what we thought we were going to
do. We started to try to decide on a piece, and eventually it turned
into a small musical jam session. We started singing songs from Les
Mis, Phantom of the Opera, the secret garden (of which I was not aware
I knew songs from), a few other musicals that I for sure was not aware
of (I thought I knew at least some stuff.... But I don't know
anything. I am musically uncultured. I blame my parents! Haha xD) and
then even eventually ended up rocking out with Disney, Billy Joel,
Coldplay, Lincoln Park, Journey, and a whole bunch of things that we
probably shouldn't have been jamming out to as missionaries. The zone
leaders and the sister training leaders eventually realized that and
did, in fact, *after joining in for a bit, may I add* let us know that
it was time to stop. It felt good to just kind of let go and get some
stuff off of our minds, get the little worldly stuff out of our heads
so that we could focus again on missionary work.
After an emergency, and completely necessary, DQ run my companion and
I made it back to area, then walked to Brother Gowey's house to have
another lesson with him. We talked with him about how the sealing
ordinance works (without the sacred details, of course) and how it
makes it so he can be sealed to all of his family from now to the
eternities back.
I also got to find the line tracing back to Adam and Eve, (or at least
one of the 3-4 I've found on my line since I've been out) and show him
how the line doesn't stop, and how we know that we are all literal
defendants of the two original people. It also interested me that on
that particular line, it took 139 (or so) generations to get from
myself to Adam and Eve. Cool factoid, I think. It makes me wonder
where the other lines are. I found one line a while ago that traced
back to Mary and Joseph (earthly parents of Christ), another that
traced to some Philistines, and then this one that traced back to
Judah and Jacob, and up through them. Interesting to see how all of
the history works, the geography and whatnot. Good day, learned a lot
of stuff myself and was able to teach some stuff to a bunch of people
We helped brother Yule take the rest of the bulk trash out of the
gross apartment from last week. It wasn't as gross, but we still took
a good 900 or so pounds of broken down dressers and bookshelves, as
well as 7 old tube TVs. (You know... The REALLY heavy ones) It was a
ton of work, but it felt good to take a hammer and smash up all of the
old dressers and whatnot, as well as to be able to throw the heavy TVs
into the bins at the landfill and see them just get smashed to pieces
as we threw them on top of one another. That, and after we got done
Brother Yule took us out to get some southern food (Kajen? Kagen? I
dunno how it was supposed to be spelled) and we had some of the best
shrimp Alfredo ever. They had a bunch of mushrooms, zucchini,
cucumbers, tomatoes, and all sorts of other stuff that I didn't think
I liked, but when it was with all the other stuff it just tasted
fantastic! Maybe my taste buds are just like slowly dying, and so I'm
just not tasting the stuff I normally don't like, because normally I
don't like tomatoes, but we had some fried green tomatoes and they
were the BOMB DIGGITY.
We went home just after that, and I think Elder Hansen is still a
little sick (either that or he's always unnaturally tired) but he
slept for like 4 hours.... Even though I tried to wake him up like 5
times. Oh well.... If he needs the sleep he needs it. I watched a
bunch of the feature films on LDS.org (Meet the Mormons, Johnny Lingo,
The Phone Call, On The Lord's Errand, and then like one more) and so
it was kinda cool to just hang out and wait for my companion to wake
Anyway, he finally woke up after what felt like an eternity, and we
left the apartment to go visit a few people in Clinton. We attempted
to visit with a few less actives around the church, but we only really
had avail with one, and even then it was just because he lives next to
the church and we just talked with him across the church fence. We had
planned to go to the church to give Elder Hansen some time to start
arranging the piece for the relief society thing (I offered to help,
but he said it would just be easier if he did it on his own. Thanks
Elder Hansen for the confidence boost in my music skills.) But when
we got there the member was standing in his yard so we called to say
hello and then he talked with us for a while about stuff happening in
his life. It was cool, because we also ran into sister Hielson and
talked with her about the musical number we are doing in church this
coming Sunday. It would be nice to practice with our accompanist once
or twice... Or so we came to the conclusion haha. So we talked with
her a little to schedule a practice, and then we went inside and Elder
Hansen began to do his own thing while I played around on the organ a
bit to at least attempt to increase my organ playing skills. I'm
slowly getting better at it, but I still haven't figured out how to be
coordinated enough to play with my feet. I am giving a lot of hope
into time eventually fixing that one. I was able to get through Bach's
Toccata and Fugue (in D minor!) with sort of ease, but then again at
the tempo I was playing it so could most 4 year olds ahaha
Haha someone made the comment today that it was 4/20 and that in
district meeting I looked like I was high as a kite. I was just tired
as flip, but whatever works. Made for a funny moment with the
District meeting was pretty cool today. We played a fun little
ice-breaker game- BEEFTWKNEO (I don't remember what it stand for
unfortunately)- basically it was just a little questionnaire thing
that the district leader put together with some fun questions that
help us as a district get to know one another better. Had some fun
questions that made a lot of us laugh, especially with my dumb answers
haha. But he best part of district meeting was that I had to give a
discussion- a fact that I found out about as Elder Bozue announced it
as part of the program (a dumb mishap with phones- he tired to send me
a text telling me about it but we never got it). The best part? The
topic was "How can I best follow the Spirit and know the promptings it
gives me?" So I gave a very short discussion on following the spirit,
by following the spirit haha. It was good though, everyone told me
that it was a good discussion. I let the spirit guide, I let the
spirit lead!
After district meeting we had a lesson with sister Nichols, who, after
we talked about temples for a while she taught me how to sew up my
pants and fix them using my sewing kit. We used the 130 year old
sewing machine to fix them, but she said that was only because it was
available and it made our lived a lot easier.
The only other really substantial thing we did today was we spent a
good hour and half mostly finishing the arrangement for the song.
Elder Hansen sat down and made a general idea of what he wanted for
the song, and then I sat down at the piano and took his ideas and
added my own thing to them and we twisted and turned it until it was
finally something that we both thought sounded good. We realized that
instead of taking a piece of music and adding to it..we are basically
arranging our own version of the song. We are banking on the fact that
maybe we can find a good sheet music making software online, and then
be able to write all our ideas down onto sheet paper and make this
into something that we might even be able to use in the future. Who
knows?! Maybe I'll use this at home some day!!

Holy crap I really am turning into my dad................

We went to the stake center to weekly plan, but didn't get much done.
We started to plan, but then the other Elder that is singing with us
showed up so we kinda dropped what we were doing to practice a bit. It
was good, but now we have like nothing planned for the week next week,
so things are going to be interesting. We had an appointment with Sue
so we had to get running, but when we got halfway there, we realized
we forgot to get pictures of the sheet music so that we could start
transposing what was written into the key we had written the other
stuff in. So we rushed back to the stake center to get the pictures,
and then rushed to Sue's to be able to teach her. We got there and
didn't exactly know what we were going to teach, but the spirit
definitely led us into teaching about Joseph smith and the
restoration. She seemed to really enjoy that, and we were also able to
clear up some confusions that she had about the Book of Mormon, a few
stories that she had mixed up between the bible and the Book of
Mormon. It feels good to be able to continue helping her progress,
even if it is at a slower rate than what it was before.
The only other really significant thing we did today was a little bit
of transposing for the music we had. I am finding out that transposing
is the worst thing in the world. Changing things from the key of E to
the key of A flat is not fun... Especially because Elder Hansen left
me to get rid of the piano part while he took care of the easier vocal
parts. As I finished up with the 3rd verse, (which I actually had to
change to a minor key... The worst thing ever) Elder Hansen got an
idea. Rather than changing what was written in the sheet music, why
don't we just change what we had written to the key the sheet music
was in?
Needless to say... I was upset. What he said made sense, and I planned
on doing it, but I was upset. I angrily got to working on his idea,
and because of the simplicity of what I had written (or at least
relatively speaking), it took me significantly less time. I learned a
lot about what I knew about music today, and that I actually can do
more than I thought haha. Maybe that's the whole point of this whole
thing- the lord is helping me realize what I know and what I don't
about my talents haha.
Elder Hansen and I also get to sing on Sunday this week, with a little
bit of help on the piano form the Ward Organist. We decided with her
earlier in the week that it would probably be helpful to practice at
least once. So we went over to her house this morning to practice a
few times with her. After that we wandered around a while in her area
trying to find someone to teach, but I have a feeling that because it
was only like 11am, either no one wanted to let us in or it was too
early for anyone to be home. Either way, we had like no success so we
headed back home to finish studies and for lunch.
After lunch we headed to brother Gowey's and talked with him for a
while about the priesthood. He's taking steps to get there, but we got
a while until he is there. It's okay though! The path to baptism was
nice and slow for him, but it was super worth it in the end!
After brother Gowey we went out to beavertail for dinner with the
Egberts. We had some sweet taco salads with them and then we tried to
teach dusty a bit, but the kids were being so crazy that we weren't
able to get much of anything done haha. She was watching like all the
kids she was related to that day, so there was something like 9-10
kids under the age of 8 running around being crazy! It was to wild!
But anyway, after that we had nothing left to do for the day, so we
started driving out to Seeley Lake. I always love being out there in
Seeley, so I am really looking forward to this weekend!
Had a pretty good day in Seeley Lake today, even though we didn't do
much. It was raining like crazy throughout most of the day today, so
doing anything outside would have just been like super
counter-productive. Getting sick is not a fun thing, so we decided
that we would just try to visit a bunch of people in town. We did our
studies at the church, went to lunch at a member's house, had some
sweet visits with Sister Daniels and Sister Ogden, both going through
pregnancy hormone imbalances right now so the lessons were...
Interesting. We didn't get much of a lesson in with either of them,
besides working in a few principles to hopefully help them. They were
good though. We tired to make some other visits, hoping that the rain
would put pity on our side in getting us into houses, but alas it did
not. We got home a little early, and from there we just worked on the
music a little bit more. This whole music transposing and arranging is
starting to give me a headache. It feels good to finally understand
music well enough to be able to do it... But man it also kind of

Oh and fun little fact- weighed myself today- 200.12. I am not at all
proud of that...
We sang in church today- "Brightly Beams Our Father's Mercy". I feel
like it went pretty well, everyone told us that they loved hearing it.
It was super sweet because there was a bunch of visitors that also
came up to us and said that they really enjoyed it. I'm really
learning this transfer that music can do wonders for inviting the
spirit! We also got invited into young women to teach about the first
vision, and to share our testimonies. We also got to sing there, which
felt pretty weird, but the young women said they loved it so whatever
works I guess.
There was a put-luck after church for a couple of members that are
moving to Utah that have been in the ward for like 70 YEARS. It is
super sweet that the ward is close enough to just kinda throw
something together for them, and it was also nice because we had some
extra time to talk to some non-members that were at church. We sat
with brother Gowey and sue, and so naturally it was a fun time putting
the two of them together. They both talked about how it's getting
close to being my time to leave, which a lot of members have been
saying lately so it's making me kind of nervous! I really am loving
Clinton (and the fact that I have been here like 5 months doesn't help
either), but I know that if its my time to go, it is my time to go!
Super sweet, kind of odd miracle in Clinton today Also! The bishop
gave us a referral for some less actives right after church today, so
we set aside some time to go visit with them. We walked around to try
to find their place and it turns out they live in a trailer court in
which the JW owner does not like us "Setting foot on his property".
Miracle #1: we were able to get into the court without any sort of
issues. Thanking Heavenly Father for that! So we went in and started
to talk with them for a while, but they seemed to only be like sort of
interesting in having us over. We were a little worried that we
weren't welcome, and were saying some silent prayers for some help.
Well the help came- through their cat. They have a rescue cat that
apparently doesn't really like people very much, and is usually very
skittish around new people coming into the home. However, the cat was
super friendly to my companion and I and was purring like a motor
laying across the both of our laps. The miracle part? The members told
us that if that cat approved of us, we were more than welcome to come
back. It makes me laugh that the lord was able to use such an odd mean
to be able to bring to pass ha work! The lord works in mysterious ways
I suppose!

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

James 1:5-6
5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all
men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is
like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.

(Saw this sign in Missoula on Monday... HAHA the roaming gnome

One of the cats at sister Nichol's enjoys taking naps on copies of the
Book of Mormon and on my companion's iPad, so elder Hansen took a
restoration pamphlet and turned into a gospel sandwich, cat hair

The lakeside view from the hills backyard- I can see why they love
living in that spot exactly haha)

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