Tuesday, December 29, 2015

So this is Christmas....

Monday, Dec 28, 2015

" This week was pretty great and I got to google hangout with my family so I lost care to write this weeks email to its fullest potential, but it is pretty good. 

Today the Hammonds came in while we were all emailing and gave us all presents so they told us to come and open them. They got us some frisbee golf frisbees. I, along with everyone else , did horrible. It was still super fun especially with everyone around. We went and got sushi and I experimented and got the Obe roll. It was super good. I found out that when you eat out, get water with lemon in it and add one or two sweetener packs and it makes really good lemonade. I then went to Vidor on exchanges. 

In Vidor we went to teach this one guy and as we were driving, Elder Strong felt inspired to teach this one guy on his porch. He is about 25ish. We flip a U and go back and park on the side of the road. The guy signals to pull in the driveway so we pull in. He was actually pretty solid. We start to teach him and he is understanding and asking questions. He is actually pretty interested. Then he looked and pointed to a car coming down the road and says, "That's my dad comin down." We're like cool and we resume teaching him. So his dad pulls into the driveway and then gets out. He slams his hand on the top of his car making a loud bang. Then he said some really bad curse words and told us to get off his property. So me and Elder Strong were so surprised so we just sat there. Honestly, it was only three seconds and he got even more mad and said some things that are too bad to bleep out, so we hurried out and went and found another guy to teach. We told him our experience and he started to cuss out the guy who cussed us out. 

We took  a guy out with us, who had barely got home from his mission in Korea, to see some investigators and it turned out to be a horrible idea.  He was asking us to do a bunch of weird stuff that they would do in Korea. He also would start talking in Korean. Then he had to go so he dropped us off at this investigators house. We taught the investigator and then since we didn't have a car or bikes, we walked 3 miles to our apt. and it started to rain. We arrived at our apt and we were going to grab our bikes, but we talked to one of our investigators that live right under us and asked him to take us to our car. He said yes. We hopped into his car which smelled like smoke and had a bunch of neon lights in it and funky music. But it was still better than biking for 7 miles in the rain. Then we grabbed our Orange Zone socks that we ordered.

Besides proselyting, one thing we did out of the ordinary is we fried the chicken hearts. They actually tasted pretty good. I am not going to lie, it was like chicken nuggets mixed with sausage. After we made them we took some over to the sisters and told them it was homemade chicken ....Cause that's not a lie. After a little persuading and having all of us try one, Sister Wilson took one and put the whole thing in her mouth. She said, "It has a different taste, but it is not bad." Then Sister Madsen took one and bit a piece and said it tasted nasty and it must be a bad piece so she took another and did the same thing and then spit it out. Then Sister Wilson asked for another and starts to chew it. Elder Lawrence then asked her if she wanted to know what she was eating. Both of them looked at us with fire and fright in their eyes and Sister Wilson said, "It's not chicken?" To which we said that well it is but it isn't . Then Elder Lawrence says, "It's CHICKEN HEARTS!" Sister Wilson gags all of it out and Sister Madsen runs over and shuts the door. We can hear them screaming and gagging and yelling, " I ate a heart!" and this went on for about 6 min. We were laughing so hard we were on the ground. We couldn't breathe we were dying laughing. After those 6 min. Sister Wilson opened the door and says that they want an apology from everyone of you. We talked and showed them the picture of the raw chicken hearts and one of us cooking them. It was one of the best moments of my life and after that we went back to the apt. and I cracked open another Norwegian chocolate bar that my friends mom sent me cause it was a day to remember, so why not.

So today was Christmas Eve and we woke up and it didn't feel like Christmas Eve at all cause at 7:00 am, it was 76 degrees outside and extremely humid. We went and helped a guy move some stuff and it rained a ton so it was really muddy and swampy. We made cookies at Bishop Evan's home. We held their Chinchillas and their hedgehog. Then we ate dinner at Sis. Burgins home and they cooked this huge Brisket and it was so good. They also cooked a bunch of other things, but oh the brisket. We played some games with them. After that , Bishop Evans picked us up and we delivered the cookies we made to people's houses. 

So Christmas day we woke up and we opened whatever presents that we didn't already open, ha ha. We went to the church and as a district we cooked breakfast. We went to the Evans house and I google hangout with my family. It was kinda weird because I felt like I was breaking the rules. It is almost like talking face to face but it's not. So it was kinda weird but it was really good and I loved it. After that while the other elders facetimed, we either played with the Evans kids toys, built a play set, or ate and hung out with the fam. At the end we went with the bishop and put cookies on peoples porches and rang the bell, then ran and jumped in the car. Then the Bishop gave us a bunch of presents to give to this family that was struggling, so we did. The mom sent us a text and thanked us and said her kids were so happy and our trying to figure out who did it. An awesome day.

Elder Saunders
These chicken heart nuggets are amazing!
me and my Special Angel Buddy at the rodeo, Nov 2015 Orange, TX
Christmas Day at the Evans-Elder Hunter is so sleepy!

Special Angels rodeo in Orange, TX Nov 2015
Elder Hunter and Elder Saunders cooking those chicken heart nuggets-Dec 2015 in Orange, TX

We loved google hangout with our Sweet Elder-Christmas Day 2015 in Orange, TX

Christmas Conference

Monday, Dec 21, 2015

" Today we played basketball and I played the worst I have ever played. We came back and as I am still getting better, I fell asleep and woke up to the other three elders trying to get each other to drink a raw egg for protein or something. I walk in and Elder Lawrence said, "Saunders, drink this." So I look in it and it's a raw egg in a glass. So I am like," If I drink it, will it make me sick?" They said no , and I was like YOLO. ( mom's note: I admit I had to look this one up and was relieved to see it means "You Only Live Once). I drank it and honestly it wasn't that bad. I have had worse green smoothies then that egg. Elder Lawrence was impressed so then he took courage and cracked an egg and drank one too, except he took too long to swallow it and he almost lost it. 

We went to Orange County Services today and sorted toys. Some of the toys were so awesome. Nerf machine guns, a polar express train set, and race cars-stuff like that. It was actually pretty fun to open other kids presents. After that we drove around in the back roads of Texas trying to find a referral and 47 min later all we found was six confederate flags and some really funny street names, but no house.

We had Christmas conference today. We woke up at 5:00 am and left early so we could make some stops along the way. We stopped at Buc-eey's( It is a giant gas station with over 100 pumps and a giant store that is kinda like a mall, with a restaurant inside.) It really is amazing and unbelievable. We arrived in Houston at about 8:45 and we talked with friends until the meeting started. They talked to us for about 3 hours and then we had lunch. I met a sister who is from Layton. Honestly, there is two of us representing Layton. We then took a mission picture. We went back into the chapel and they talked to us for another 2  1/2 hours. We watched a 30 min. slide show. We also watched "The Cokeville Miracle". It is a really good movie. I almost cried. The sisters were crying so bad that I thought the chapel was going to flood. I was the worst rain storm I've seen yet. Some famous Mormon guy skyped us and I took some pics with other missionaries and gathered my presents. We spent about 10 hours there. We went to eat with some other missionaries and got lost trying to find Panda Express(I haven't eaten there forever and I missed it). We were exploring for an hour and then we had to go rescue the sisters. We saved them and then we started for home and it was cool because we saw a bunch of other missionaries on the road. Since we all have tiwis, we had to stay pretty close to each other. It was like a Mormon squad driving up the highway. We got back at about 9:20. 

We woke up the next day and went to Orange County Services again. We were asked to be in charge of the toys. People would carry in cards that said the kid's gender, age, ethnicity, and clothing size and with that we would pick a toy for that kid. It was so cool. We gave one boy a bike. It was the last bike and we all thought it was a good idea to give it to him. A little bit after that , the person in charge came in. She told us that the kid we gave the bike to, cried when he got it. The mom told her that his dad passed away about a week ago. It just doesn't get better than that. 

That same day a Pentecostal preacher named Derick took us out to eat. He lives quite far. He loves the missionaries and he always takes them to lunch. He knows Elder Hunter , so we got hook-ups. After that we drove to Louisiana to help out one of the members there. We moved a ton of stuff out including all kinds of furniture. We then had a huge bonfire and burned it all. For dinner we cooked a whole ham.

After district meeting we all had a district lunch at this Mexican place. I got the Tex-Mex burrito, which for those of you who don't know what Tex-Mex is: It is a Mexican dish that is covered in Velveeta cheese. So much cheese that it is almost impossible to eat. After that we went and taught a lesson .

We went to Shangri La Botanical gardens to help them out. It is a really beautiful outside garden that has a bunch of exotic plants and around Christmas time, they set up 100's of Christmas trees and many lights. So Orange County Services was doing this food drive where if you brought in a can of food, it was half off the ticket price. We were helping collect cans and we did it for two hours and it was super busy. A guy came out from the office and told us they had 1, 512 people come through with a can of food. Then he told all of us we could go in free. We explored it and it was so amazing. It started to snow... Just kidding, but they had this machine that made fake snow so we took a picture in it. That is the closest I will get to snow in 2 years. We also found out that West Orange won state in football. It was a pretty good day. 

We sang in the ward choir on Sunday for the Christmas Program. It was us four elders and then there were 3 other guys and 24 sisters. Then we went to a rest home and sang for the residents. We just bought chicken hearts because so are going to cook them and find out how they taste. Stay tuned in the next post for how that turned out.
Elder Saunders
 So excited to eat these chicken hearts we found for really cheap! Dec 2015 in Orange, TX

We cooked a whole ham-yum! Dec 2015 in Orange, TX

My MTC buddy, Elder Andrew and me, Elder Saunders at the Christmas concert -Dec 2015 in Kingwood, Texas

Elder Saunders and his first trainer, Elder Knebel. Christmas Conference in Kingwood, TX Dec 16 2015.

Nativity @ the Shangri La Botanical gardens in Orange, TX  Dec 2015

Elder Venche, Elder Saunders, Elder Hunter, Elder Lawrence @ the Shangri La Botanical
Gardens in Orange, TX Dec 2015


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Getting Ready for a Texas Christmas

Monday Dec 13, 2015

Ok, now. I am still sick, but I am getting better, with that said I am currently working on a will to sign my stuff over in case I die. Well, enough with that drama fest. Let's get into what y'all actually came for, stories of us Elders.

The other elders took our car and drove down to transfers, so we had them drop us off at the church at 10:00 am. The Hammonds picked us up at 6:00 and took us to the Evans house where we ate dinner. We ate chili, which is really weird because if you knew me before, I hated beans.(***so sorry, he gets his dislike of beans from his mom) Honestly, I have eaten them so much down here. Maybe it is because down here they know how to cook them and it tastes super good. I had three bowls full of chili. Then Bishop Evans grabbed the turkey oil the he used to fry 5 turkeys and he put it by the fire and then he pushed it over on the fire and it got bright. I recorded it if it comes through, but it was much brighter then what the camera shows. After that we had blue bell and brownies and Elder Lawrence came back with his new Companion, Elder Venche.

So today we woke up and did our service. We went to an investigators house to teach their kids. The father wants them all to be baptized on the same day. We taught the kids and no kidding it was so funny. Each of her kids have way different personalities. Her oldest who is eleven, acts like she is 16 and is really mature and answered a lot of questions. She was very interested in what we had to say. Then, you have her second oldest who is nine. He is the kind where he can't focus and will say he understands then ask you really funny questions that don't relate at all. The third oldest who is seven and she is the biggest redneck kid you will ever meet. How she talks and acts, is so funny. All three of them together are hilarious. We ask them questions and they would say an answer and then the other ones would say a completely different answer and they all would fight and try to prove the other wrong. 

After the lesson, the Arringtons took us out to eat at the Tex -Mex place called , 'Two Amigos". Now you may ask, how do you know it is Tex-Mex? That is a valid question. The answer to that is well if it was an actual Mexican restaurant, it would be called 'Dos Amigos'. This place was actually pretty good. I had the steak fajitas and it was really weird because they brought out the ingredients on a plate and then gave me the tortillas. So they let you build your own. I have never built my dinner while I was at a restaurant, but I guess that's what they do down here. 

We went to Orange County Services and worked there today. Connie is a lady in charge and she is super funny and actually quite crazy. She took us into the back room and then she said it is getting close to Christmas. She gave us all gift card to Subway. We then visited a investigator and he's super cool and he wants to take us to Beaumont to play pool with him at a bar. He did say he would order root beer for us and he said the bar is pretty family welcomed before 7:00. It was funny and we for sure won't be able to make it.

We went to a cowboy store and looked at all these boots that were super expensive. The lowest were like $150 and the highest were $765. I guess they mean business in Texas when it comes to hats. They are actually pretty wxpensive if you buy an authentic Texas hat. It costs like $150 and an expert will come out and fit the hat to your head. Anyway we went there to buy overalls but they were out of stock, so we looked around and found this sweet tie that shows a couple of Cowboys that are sitting around a campfire in the winter. It is so cool. We cooked chicken at the other elders apt. , but we bought crappy chicken and we pretty much ate straight fat and tendons. We played basketball with some investigators . We are outta shape..

We went to the ward Christmas party today. It was super good. We ate a bunch and then we did spoken pedal. I guess that West Orange high school is the semi state champions. Everywhere we went people were playing the game so we just heart the game and tried to teach people. We found this guy in his car and we taught him between commercials. I guess West Orange won by 20 so now they are in the state championship. They are playing next week on the Texans field. They are able to play there because they won. All the schools in Orange got cancelled on the day they play, that is how big football is down here. 

After that we went to a members home and they had the best garlic bread I've ever tasted. We also had Italian sausages and a bunch of other food. They showed us this dog called the Saint Bardoodle. Its a Saint Bernard/Poodle mix. It was really cool. The only thing is that they late feeding us and we were scheduled to have another dinner so we left the house and went straight to Dennys to eat with another family. Elder Hunter and I tried to the smallest thing on the menu. Dennys doesn't serve small plates. I got this breakfast grilled cheese thing thinking it was like an average slice of bread. But no they bring out these two halves that are probably as big as my ego. So me and Elder Hunter try to do every trick in the book to fit this down. We did the Samoan press, tightening the belt, leaning forward, water with every bite. It got so bad I would chew for 5 minutes because I could not swallow anymore. We managed to talk and eat it all but when we got to the car we moaned and felt so sick. We are pretty much waiting to die.

Elder Saunders
Elder Lawrence, Kevin, Elder Saunders

bonfire at Bishop Evans Dec 2015 Orange, TX

Monday, December 14, 2015

One Sick Missionary

Monday Dec 7, 2015-Orange, Texas

" So I'm still sick. This is the longest I've ever been sick. I might have bronchitis but it's not exactly for sure, so lets suffer through this and type it out. 

I woke up with a terrible cough and a runny nose. I came to the conclusion that I am gonna die pretty soon so I'm making a will for when I die. Most of my stuff will go to my companion.

So we have no dinner appointments for this week so we decided to go to Taco Bell. We were talking about the Holy Ghost and then a person came up to us and he said he was the Bishop for Nederland. We started to talk and he was super cool and he joked around with us. Then randomly he was like, "I bet y'all guys are hungry!" And we smiled and said that he didn't have to pay for us. He's like, " Haha pay for it? Ya, right." We are half laughing thinking that this guy is gonna rob the place. Instead he walks up to the counter and tells them he needs a couple of tacos, a couple of burritos, and some other stuff. He then told them to make it quick. We're thinking this guy is awesome! He said he was over here inspecting the place-his job is to inspect the food and establishment. 

He grabbed the food and passed it out and then he asked us if we wanted cinnamon twists on the house. He said as soon as he asked that Elder Hunter had that gleam in his eye. He said, I'll go get y'all some . He came back with 3 bags of cinnamon twists. He then left to inspect the bathrooms and didn't come out for over 15 min. and we had to go to an appointment so we didn't get to say goodbye to him. The funny thing was when we were leaving, people saw that we were friends with him so we had like 'street cred' and even the people that worked there made it a goal to say bye to us. 

I got a package from my friend's parents and they sent me a super cool reindeer Santa hat, a way cool penguin tie, and some super good Norwegian chocolate. 

You know how I was talking about the drug dealer that lives across from us? Well at 10:55 we were getting into bed and then the door rings. Now both of us are confused cause the rule is you have to be in bed at 10:30 and the other elders had exchanges, so it's not like they would come over unless it was an emergency. So we go to the door and look through the peep hole and there was this guy in a hoodie and a hat. He kept his face down, so we couldn't see his face. He rang the door bell again and he knocked twice(which is what the people do to the drug dealers apt). So my companion says, "Whose this?" and the guy answers, " Hairy( *note from parents: Pretty sure he meant to type Harry but it looked so fun how he spelled it.*) My companion said, "Sorry, homes, you got the wrong house. It was almost super funny cause when he said that he sounded like African American. Like a perfect accent and timing and everything. The guy walks away and I turn to my companion and I'm like, "Dude, how did you do that voice?"  My comp said, "Man, I don't know, it just came out that way." We were talking about it and we figured out why he came to our door is because we're #63 and the drug dealer lives in #73, so maybe he got the number wrong. Maybe a giant picture of Jesus wasn't obvious enough to know that we aren't those guys. 

Today was a good day. We woke up and went to go help a guy move some stuff into his house. We get there and it is super muddy. We found out that all the cardboard boxes were muddy and spilled everywhere. We got pretty muddy in pros clothes. This guy is a complete redneck cause we were putting the furniture under the house and he had a burning tub, a tub just to burn stuff. 

After that we went to Orange County Services and helped out. We met with a guy named Homer and he told us that his brother just recently passed away. We had a good lesson. After that we met with our recent convert, Casey. She committed to come to church again and also attend the other elders baptism. 

As we were driving away we get this call from an inactive member, Scott, and he asked us if we were free around 6. We told him yes and he told us to meet him at Kotoyamas. We met up with him and he already got us an appetizer (egg rolls). Then Scott says, 'I got y'all the hottest waitress". We laughed and he told us relationship advice. He bought us a ton of sushi that was actually super good. I ate two rolls. Elder Hunter only managed 1 and 1/2. After that, Elder Hunter gave a baptismal interview to the other elders investigator. 

Today we went to OCS again and apparently they had this huge food drive, cause when we came in, there was this huge truck full of food. We unloaded it and weighed them and it ended up being 5,500 lbs that we loaded off, then another truck came that was carrying about 1,500 lbs. So we had our work cut out for us today. 

Then we did an Hour of Power district blitz. A district blitz is where the whole district goes to one of the companions areas and all of them go and pretty much contact the whole neighborhood. We went to the sisters area cause they had an investigator move and they gave them the street but not the actual address. The street they put down was way huge street. We said a prayer and then we split up and did three companions per street. We were knocking on every door trying to find the investigator. We're walking past a house when we hear a person say, Reanna(which is the person we are looking for). We walk around the house and find another house completely hidden. Standing in front of that house was the sister's investigators. We talked to her and then we left and told the sisters we had found them. Now the sisters love us, haha. We had a celebratory subway sandwich. Everyone guessed who was getting transferred. Everyone thought I was gonna leave. 

We went to the church today to have combined companionship study with the sisters. I was on exchanges with Elder Lawrence so we were able to go to the family history room. We went on lds. org and took 2 lessons in Spanish. For lunch we went to the 'Old Orange Cafe'. It is a super old restaurant and is one of the first restaurants in Orange. It is only open at lunchtime. I had a BBQ chicken sandwich, and it was so good. We had some appointments and then we went to dinner at this small shack on the side of the road. It's BBQ and actually pretty famous. It is called, 'The Hut'. I got the chopped brisket sandwich and it was amazing! We came home after that to see who got flushed today. So far we know of two people and transfer calls come in tomorrow. Elder Hunter says he's going but he's staying.

We were unloading a truck for food storage in the morning and then we baked a cake for the sister's investigators, cause the sisters asked us to and we did so I guess we are whipped, haha. Then we went to the elders baptism which was pretty cool. It was their first baptism. 

Later we went to the apartments and this cute black kid who is about 6, comes up to us and said hey, what do you do?. So we told him that we go around and teach about Jesus. The kid goes, " I want to learn about Jesus." So we are teaching him and his friend comes up and says, "Yo, man. Come back and play football. The kid said, 'No man. I hearing about Jesus. I wanna hear about him." The friend ran and told his friends and about 20 black kids run to us, so we taught them about Jesus and showed them a video. It was so cool. After that it was super dark and the kids ran in. It is sketchy here in the dark. As we were leaving the complex we saw a legit drug deal and believe it or not, this is my fourth one. 

We got dinner and went home and waited for transfers to come. Elder Hunter put everyone on a group call and had them guess and everyone said me or Elder Lawrence. Hunter smiled and said that Elder Wood was going. Everyone was surprised and Elder Lawrence was mad. Cause he has been in a biking area for 13 months straight. Elder Hunter said the only reason I'm staying is cause the President loves me and thinks I can change the district around. I don't understand that cause I just got done training.

Church was today and we taught Priest class. Then we sang in the ward choir. It was bad because I'm still not 100% so I couldn't really sing. Brother Kole took us home teaching and we went to these people who were less active and they loved us and really wanted us to come back. After that we had dinner at the Kole's and they took us back to the apartment.

When we arrived, President Drake called Elder Hunter and asked him how he felt that I was leaving. To which Elder Hunter said, " Actually, we're both staying." Then the President said, No, he's leaving. Who told you that?"  And Elder Hunter said, 'The Zone leaders." President Drake was super quiet and then finally said, "Well, I guess that's right." So I'm pretty sure this is my last transfer here cause the President already thought I got transferred.
Elder Saunders


Penguin tie and Reindeer hat  from the Odlands-Orange, Texas Dec 2015

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Tall weeds and Planting Seeds

Monday, Nov 30, 2015

"Elder Hunter gave Elder Lawrence a haircut today. We did emailing a little early today because we have no money for groceries, so yeah having no money really simplifies your life. Then we went to the park and played tennis and then we went to the Evans house and had a bonfire which he poured a whole gallon of gasoline on then lit it. It was huge! Then we played sardines. I was the one to hide so I went in their field full of tall weeds. I took off my striped long sleeve shirt. Under that shirt, I had a dark blue one on. Honestly, I had two people come within a foot of me and almost everyone came within 10 feet but they didn't find me for about 10 min. It was way fun and after that we had pizza and homemade hot chocolate. Brother Evans gave up some of his homemade hot chocolate.

So today was one of the worst days. Not because we got cussed out or everyone bailed out of our appts, but because I woke up with a sore throat. Apparently my parents were inspired because they sent me a sore throat remedy in the Thanksgiving package. The only problem is that the remedy did not work. It helped but not as much as I needed it to. Now normally this would be okay because on a normal day we have no set appointments. However, this was the only day where we actually had set appointments. So we left and went to Orange County services where we bagged another 185 bags for Christmas, then we sorted out a bunch of stuff. We came home and I slept for an hour, then we went to our lesson with Casey( the lady who we recently baptized) It was actually really cool. She hadn't been to church for 2 weeks so we asked why and she said that her job (a waitress) has her working on Saturday and it is the busiest day of the week. She gets home at 3 am. She said that she has been so tired that she couldn't make it to church. Then without missing a beat, she said that she had talked to her boss to see if she could move her day off from Wednesday to Saturday so she could be well rested to go to church. It is honestly so cool to see a person who you met from day one and see her change right in front of you. At first she never said prayers and now she always jumps to say a prayer. She is always telling us how life is so much easier now then it was before. She is also inviting a friend over so we can teach her at her house. We also brought a member with us-Judge Dunn. He was like, "Okay, Casey, what do you need for Christmas? She told him she didn't need anything. Judge D was like, so would you rather have cash or gift cards? Again Casey said honestly I'm working long hours so I don't need to depend on people and then Judge D said, okay gift card it is.

After that Judge Dunn took us to Dairy Queen, but then a person called him and he had to go to an investigation, so he handed us $20 dollars and said buy whatever you want, then he left. We then met an investigator close to Vidor who actually isn't in our stake boundaries but she will only go to our ward. So with the Zone Leaders approval we drove there and taught her husband. The wife is a member but the husband is solid and honestly has been the most solid person I've taught, yet. He answered questions to perfection. He asked questions and paid attention because when you spoke he would look you in the eye. The only problem is he is being trained in Houston for his job and won't get done until Jan, so I will be gone for that. We can teach him at least 3 times before he goes back  to Houston. My throat is dead and I need some sleep.

So I woke up today and I wasn't much better, so today I just tried to chill and get better. We then get a phone call from President and he said to meet us at the gas station in 20 min. So I hurried and took a shower and got dressed and met him and he just talked with us. He left to go give a leaving interview to an Elder in Sulfer. So we came home and checked the mail to see if my package came and it did, however, it was ripped open and the stuff inside was stolen! I was upset and then I remembered, 'Is my salvation worth what was in that package? Then I was thinking, well apparently whoever stole it lost theirs. Just kidding. Lets just say whoever stole it, their future will be a little bit hot!!

So today was Thanksgiving and I'm still sick. I am getting better but still sick. We had breakfast at the Hammonds and she made us smoothies and she also made us a cheese ball that we dipped chips into. 

We then went to a Baptist church and helped them out because they had a free Thanksgiving dinner for all the people who couldn't afford a meal. So we helped them out and after they expressed how thankful they were and how it ran smoother then ever. They asked us where we were from and we said Utah and Idaho. They were amazed and asked us how we could have the same church in Idaho and Utah because the Baptist churches are ran by the pastors, so every church is run separately. A Baptist church is like a snowflake, we never see two of the same kind :) So that was pretty funny. 

We had thanksgiving dinner at the Burgins, which was super good. She invited all four elders and we had the best stuffing that I have ever tasted and one of the best turkey's I have ever tasted. Of course, the other things : yams, potatoes, cranberry sauce, yum! The we played cards with the family. I went for it all at the end to win and lost it all. Then we had the best pumpkin pie I have ever tasted (sorry, mom) . That was my Thanksgiving because we were told to not go out and proselyte. We had exchanges and I went with Elder Wood to his area which isn't that bad. I mean their area is straight hood, but their apartment is so much nicer than ours is. My bed is terrible and kills me but the bed in his apartment is brand new and soft and so comfy. They have two nice bathrooms each with a really nice shower. We have one bathroom with a stream that we call a shower but it has no pressure. 

So this is the day after Thanksgiving. So anyway we woke up and went to district meeting. We then went over to the Lovelaces because they had family come from all over. So we arrive there and they have a miniature cannon( still pretty good size) there and once we came, Bro Lovelace was like, "Alright, y'all, the Elders are here. Let's light this sucker up. So they light this long fuse and blasted it! I mean it was powerful. There was no ammo in it, but there sure was some gunpowder in it. When it was lit, it made a huge sound that you could feel the vibrations from. It was so powerful, it raised the front end of the cannon pretty high. Yeah, that is Texas for you. We went inside the house to eat and we feel like celebrities. Everyone is lining up to talk to us and people are taking pictures. We finally manage to make it to the food table. We took a count and there were about 40+ people there. 1/2 of them brought something to eat. There was southern Mac n cheese(good), three chip dips(great), this rice stuff that I forgot the name of but it is southern and really good. I kid you not there was craw fish casserole(which was actually super good) oh man it was good. It had big chunks of crawfish and other things. Also they had Gumbo which is super good and other things. The desserts were two tables full! It was crazy! Now let me say that we tried just about everything: 10 pies, a couple of puddings, other cakes, this super good cinnamon roll filled with cream cheese casserole thing, many cupcakes and so many other things that will make my stomach ache. We ate so much.

So while we were eating this feast, a guy was talking to us and he asked us where we are from and we say Utah. He said that was cool because I am from Roy. So we talk and and he asks if I went to Northridge or Layton. He said he knows the football coaches at Northridge so we talk about that. I told him I have some friends on the Roy football team and he said he coached them. It may seem like a pretty pathetic story, but honestly it made my day. The only places in Utah people know down here is Salt Lake and Spanish Fork. Nobody usually knows Layton, so it is always good to see someone who not ony knows where Layton is but also knows some of my friends there. We then played a game called washers and threw a pine cone into the pond that was by their house and the dog dove in to get it. When we left, me and Elder Wood biked forever to see a person, then we found out she wasn't home. We talked to people until it was dark, then we biked forever back(cause their area is in the ghetto so they tell you to never contact in the dark). We almost got hit by two cars-one not on purpose and the other one tried to hit us and got a lot closer. We made it back in one piece, though. That was the end of our exchange.

So we woke up and had missionary correlation and breakfast at the Hammonds. Then we did some things and we were biking around and then we came across an atheist. To make matters worse and not dramatize it, here are some highlights. He told us that we are idiots and that what we do is evil. He said that we follow a con artist. Then he told us some other things but I'm keeping this PG here. Honestly he was the cockiest guy I've ever met. He condemned us for an hour and told us that he thinks our talk helped us more than it helped him. Now that is where I came in and was like, "Well, not to burst your bubble but you're not the first guy to say this. Many others have talked to us and said the same things. But here is what I know to be true. We follow what you call to be false and foolish but yet we are happy. We are experienced and we don't need to trash talk people to feel better. We come out to help people and give them a chance to use what we call agency. I can see that you have used yours, so instead of going on for another hour, let's shake hands and get out. I can tell you won't change and I know of a surety that I am never changing what I know to be true."We then exchanged some more words and left. It is just really sad because this is a good example of a person who used his the wrong way. I mean I run into people a lot who hate us, but at least they believe in Christ. This man you really have to feel sorry for because he was not happy. He is pretending to be a big shot. You can tell by the car that he drives and the job that he said he had, that his life needs a major change. His life is falling apart, yet he hates the only one who can help him. In doing so he passed up his only chance to be happy. I'll tell you right now that I did not have an answer to everything he said. Some of it was really thought out and you could tell he has studied this and expressed this to many people. Here is what I do know, I don't have to convince myself that it is true. My faith is pretty much a knowledge and that knowledge has turned into a fact. He wanted us to give him facts that they were true. I said no and he asked us why we believe, then. I told him that time after time that if you knew how crappy life has been and how much better it is now, you'd see that as a fact. Now that my rant is over it really brings to life that some people really don't like you . They will, if you give them a chance, try to bring you down to their level. This is why we are told to hold fast to the iron rod, to put on the armor of God, to keep our bodies as temples. All these things if done right will purify you and turn your faith into personal facts. I can promise you it is true. 

So let me give you some back story first on this last one. The 2nd counselor of the Bishopric moved away. We were all taking bets on who was going to be the next one. So it was us four elders and Brother Evans and some others. (Bro Evans is our ward mission leader) Brother Evans said that he takes this seriously and said he thought it was gonna be Brother Arrington. We thought it was going to be Brother Evans. So we put in our bets and then Sunday came, the day of truth. So us 4 elders were still thinking about who was going to replace the 2nd counselor and then the thought came to us that Brother Evans wasn't going to be the 2nd counselor. He was going to be the Bishop! We thought this because his dad came and he had meetings. He kept saying that he will talk to the Bishop and get things changed starting next week. So after that we quickly found out who the first and second counselors were and approached Brother Evans and said and I quote, " Brother Evans, do you really think it is a good idea to put Brother Fisher as 1st and Brother Arrington as 2nd?" He looked at us so surprised and confused for almost a second and then he changed his expression back and said, "Elders, once you put in your bids, you can't change them." Ha Ha. Then he walked off. Later we were right about it and who were called. Now, why did I share this story with you? Quite honestly, I don't know. I needed something to put down for Sunday and I thought this was a pretty funny story. 

Now for the Texan word of the week, The word is 'pine straw'. Definition: Basically all it is, is pine needles on the ground. That is it.
Example: We have all this pine straw on the ground after the winds came through. More to know: If the needles are in the tree, they are still called pine needles. If they fall from the tree to the ground, they evolve to pine straw :) "
Elder Saunders
Santa's helper Orange, TX  Nov 2015

Title of Liberty  Orange, TX 2015 ( Love the picture of Christ above the flag)

Sister Madsen, Sister Wilson, Elder Wood, Elder Saunders, Elder Hunter, Elder Lawrence in Orange , TX  Thanksgiving at the Lovelaces home Nov 2015

Sister Madsen, Sister Wilson, Elder Wood, Elder Saunders, Elder Hunter, Elder Lawrence in Orange, TX 2015

Thanksgiving Dinner at the Lovelaces in Orange, TX