Tuesday, May 27, 2014

May 27, 2014

Hey Everyone,
   This week was good. It was slow but good. We are at a point right now where we baptized our golden family and need to find someone to replace them. Basketball at the apartment complex still happens regularly. Really nothing much has changed. It is getting hotter though. I'm not too excited about that fact. I think the increased heat is making me more tired as well. I suppose walking around in the sun all day will do that to you.
   Nothing too crazy happened last week. Graduation for the high schools here happened so our YSA ward grew quite a bit. Also this means a lot of the young men in the Groves ward can come out with us more.
   I still have yet to ever catch a fish with a pole. We went fishing in the canals yesterday. Elder Clarke caught three, the guy we were with caught three, and I caught zero. I'm almost to the conclusion that fish hate me. I'll probably try again next week just to make sure.
   This week I was reminded of a simple lesson I've learned over the course of my mission. The way that Satan works nowadays is interesting to me. Interesting as well as scary. Back when Cain was on the earth, satan appeared to Cain and coerced him to kill Abel. Satan doesn't work like that now. I've found it hard to believe that by coincidence, every single person I've baptized these last eight months has had something come up on the day of their baptism interview, the day of their baptism, and the day of their confirmation. Each time it is a completely logical and ethical reason not to make to any of these events. Because it is so logical and ethical, it's easy for one to rationalize not doing it or to move it further away, allowing Satan more time to work on you.
   This isn't just with baptism. This plays in every single action in our lives. Like I've said before, this world has changed from a state of moral absolutism, where God's law is God's law, to a state of moral relativity, where God's law changes based on an individual's situation. It is so easy in today's world to look at the choice as to whether or not to obey God and then to rationalize a way out of it.
   Really what it comes down to is the very real fact that God's law will always be God's law. The only logical and ethical solution to a problem or even just an everyday choice should be to obey God. He promises us that if we do so everything will work out in our favor, whether or not we view it that way. The scriptures say "By small and simple means are great things brought to pass." I believe you could also say that by small and simple means are great things hindered. By our small and simple choices every day we choose the outcome of our lives and, in turn, our eternal salvation. Think about that.

   Elder Earl

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

May 21, 2014

Hey Everyone,
   This week was great! Our family of three was baptized on Saturday. It was probably the best baptismal service I've been to on my mission. We had over a hundred people show up. It was great to have that many people come to support them.
   Other than that the week was a pretty normal one. We talked to a lot of people, not many people wanted to talk back. It was pretty much just the usual. I suppose there was one incident that stands out more then the rest. On Val Vista and Main there's a little shop that sells these huge bronze statues. We were with a member from our YSA ward trying to visit some people. No one was answering their doors that afternoon so we were trying to think of what to do. Behind this little shop there's a big dirt lot where they build the statues. As we looked behind the shop at this lot we noticed that they were building a huge Tyrannosaurus-Rex statue. Naturally, I was curious so we opted to drive back there and talk to them.
   We pulled the blue Volkswagen bug onto the dirt and drove back to the far corner of the lot where the man had just been working. Behind the lot there's a canal. Canals run all through Mesa. It's the only water I've seen since I've been in Arizona. I'm not sure where the canals run from but I'm sure someone will fill me in someday. Anyways, a woman in jeans and a pink tank top was bent over at the edge of the canal with her head completely under the water. I would have said something to her but then I realized she probably would not hear me. So I left her to do whatever she was doing and turned my attention back to the enormous, bronze dinosaur directly in front of me.
   It turns out that wasn't the only thing being worked on. A variety of life sized bronze crocodiles, a few large bronze bulls, some bronze peacocks, two bronze dragons, a full sized bronze carriage being pulled by two bronze stallions and driven by a creepy not bronze manikin dressed as a cowboy, and a small bronze terrier all rested behind the dinosaur. There was also a large grey cargo container like what you would find on a train. It was open with a blanket covering the opening. I could see a set of boots walking around inside so I spoke a little louder to Elder Clarke and the person who was with us (we'll call him josh) in hopes that he would come out. Just like I had hoped, the blanket was pulled aside and the wearer of the boots stepped out. He was a man about the age of 60 I would say. He was wearing cargo shorts and a worn out gray t-shirt to go with his boots. He had a red bandana on to soak up the sweat that dripped off his mostly bald head.
   He took his sunglasses off to wipe off the dust and then very abruptly asked us what we wanted. We then began to talk about all the statues that were being worked on back there. I asked how much they cost to which he told me they cost more than I could afford. I laughed and then realized that he was probably right so I just kept asking questions. I came to find out that they were all being shipped to a man in Wisconsin. The T-Rex itself had cost the buyer twenty grand. The old man was right, they definitely cost more than I could afford. After the man got bored with us he went back inside his cargo container to do something more entertaining.
   As he went inside I realized that the woman at the canal was walking towards us. She had wrinkles lining her face and a few tattoos on her arm that had faded to the point that I couldn't make out what they were. She looked like she had been attractive at one point but then life caught up with her. She was carrying a box of cigarettes in one hand as well as a bright green lighter. As we were getting in the car she grabbed josh.

"Are you leaving somewhere?" She asked.

"Yupp! I have to give these guys a ride back home" josh replied

   She then got uncomfortably up close and asked josh if she could get a ride too. Josh looked at us and then back at her. She then interrupted his thoughts by repeatedly yelling the word please as fast as she could, just like a five year old girl would yell for ice cream.
Josh finally caved and told her to get in the car. Realizing that she was victorious, she let out a prolonged sigh and muttered, "finally!" before she got to the door. She pulled the handle and realized it was locked.

"Let's go, let's go, let's go!" She proclaimed, jumping up and down with her hand still on the door handle. Josh unlocked the doors and let us into the back seat of his Volkswagen. She jumped into the passengers seat and immediately grabbed Josh's hand and repeatedly kissed it. She finally let go and thanked him. She told us her name was Lea. She told us that god must have sent us and that Josh looked incredible. She quickly turned back to us and asked us who we were. After we told her our names she looked at Elder Clarke.

"You're not Elder Clark." She said.

Elder Clarke looked at her, obviously confused and lost for words.

"The Elder Clark I know is attractive" she said and then looked back to Josh, picked up his hand, and kissed it some more. I noticed that the seat she was sitting in was completely drenched from her experience with the canal. The excess water was making it's way down the seat and eventually dripping onto Elder Clarke's knees. I then noticed that Josh was attempting to get her to stop kissing his hand and tell her where we were going. She gave him directions to a neighborhood by an auto shop on main and greenfield. So we flipped the car around and headed to our new destination.
   At this point I tried to start up a conversation with her. She was much more inclined to talk then the old man from the statue shop. She told us about how she grew up in Nebraska and then moved then moved to Vegas where she lived for twenty years. She moved to Arizona three years ago.

"What made you want to move down here?" I asked

"I ran away with a bank robber."

Surprisingly to myself, I wasn't at all surprised with her answer. Holding back laughter I asked, "what made you want to do that?"

"I didn't know it at the the time." Was her reply, and also her ending to that subject. We made our way to her house and parked in front of it. She then pulled out a cigarette and proceeded to lift the lighter to its tip. The look on Josh's face was one of pure horror. I thought for a second that he was going to grab the box and throw it out the window. Luckily for all of us she didn't light it. Instead she broke down in tears and told all of us how terrible of a person she was. She went on and on about it. I finally broke in and taught her about how she has a father in Heaven who loves her no matter what. I also told her about how he sent his son Jesus Christ to pay the price for sin and die for her so that she could change and come back to live with them once more.
   She calmed down but still pressed the fact that she was a horrible person. She accepted however that we loved her. She complained that we didn't even know her. I replied that we didn't know her at all but that didn't change our view of her. I reminded her again that she was a child of god and of the potential that she had to become clean through Jesus Christ. I then told her how I've experienced his love in my life and no matter how terrible we think we are, we can change. All because of the love of a father in Heaven and his son Jesus Christ.
   A peaceful feeling entered the car and I could tell that she understood. She thanked me, gave Josh a kiss on the cheek, and then exited the car. This time with a box of cigarettes and a lighter in one hand and a piece of paper with our number in the other.

    Elder Earl

Thursday, May 15, 2014

May 14, 2014

Hey Everyone,
This week went well. Our entire Ward Council in the YSA ward is
moving away so there will be a lot of changes that will have to be
made next week. I'm actually excited for it. Change usually brings
enthusiasm which is what this ward needs. Especially for missionary
I've had a little bit of nostalgia for my first area this week.
When I was talking to my mom on Sunday I realized that there are a lot
of stories from when I served in Skyline that I never shared. One in
particular keeps coming back to me this week so I might as well fill
you all in on it.
When Elder Meline and I were together we did a lot of work with an
excommunicated member who we will call Josh. Josh is probably the most
naive, innocent man who was ever spent time behind bars. I can't
picture Josh hurting a fly. That said, I have absolutely no idea what
he went to jail for. Josh is one of the those people that does less
acting for himself but more so has a tendency to be acted upon. He was
always very indecisive and opportunities were left behind because of
that. He would always give us calls to ask what he should do in each
situation, no matter the severity of each one. These calls ranged

"Hey Elder Earl. Sooo I have an interesting situation right now. I
need to get a personal trainer. Now one is a member of the church and
one isn't. The member is more expensive but I think it might be worth
paying extra so that I can talk to him about the gospel. What do you


"Hey Elder Earl. Sooo my girlfriend is moving to Illinois and I was
just calling to ask if there's a scripture somewhere that will let me
know if I should go with her?"

After Elder Meline and I split up and I was put with Elder Cupp
these calls continued to take place. I remember my favorite one of
these calls came as I was sitting on my bike, waiting for the light to
turn green on Broadway and Sossamen. I wrestled a little bit to get
the phone out of my pocket. When I finally got it out I answered.

"Hello this is Elder Earl"

"Hey Elder Earl."

"Josh? What's going on man?"

"Not much."

"Okay...how are you?"

"Not so good."

"...what's wrong?"

"Remember Rico?"

"I don't think so. Who's that?"

"My chihuahua with one eye."

"Oh! Yeah what about him?"

"He got ran over in half."

"...what do you mean?"

"Rico got ran over by a car and his body was torn in half."

"Dang...I'm sorry Robert. Rico was a good dog. I'll miss him. What
can we do to help?"

"Well the police are here and they blocked off part of Power. I can
only find the back half and I need help finding the front."

"...you need help finding the other half of your dog?"


We didn't go help find the other half. We were busy. It turns out
that he never found it. We were invited to a funeral a week later for
the tail end of an old chihuahua. Josh ended up putting the back half
in a shoebox, holding a service, and then burying Rico. It was a
highlight for my mission.
Now obviously my mind has also been focused on my mom this past
week. As I think of my mother at this point of my life it reminds me
of Mary. I think I have a different understanding of how Mary, mother
of Jesus, must have felt when she was watching her son die on the
cross. Even with all the miracles, even with all the blessings she had
seen, I'm fairly sure that she wanted nothing more then to stop the
suffering of her son and to bring him back down to her arms still
But she didn't do anything ensure that happened. Her desires were
quenched by her love for her son. Mary loved her son, Jesus Christ,
enough to let him die, to let him suffer, so that he could fulfill his
mission. She let him die so that the measure of his creation could be
filled. She loved him enough to let him suffer a terrible death, right
in front of her eyes, so that all mankind could have eternal life.
On a completely different scale I feel like that is my mother
sometimes. Even though I'm only in Arizona, even though I know for a
fact that death won't come my way while I'm serving here, it's still
hard for her. I remember how hard it was for her as I gave her a hug
and then walked off into the missionary training center. I remember
even how hard it was for her to keep composed as I talked to her on
Christmas. But all that shows how much my mom loves me. I know that my
mom loves me because even though it's hard for her, she still is
letting me serve The Lord away from home for two years. Even though
it's hard for her, she still is letting me fill the measure of my
creation here in the desert. Even though it's hard for her, she loves
me enough to let me become the man that I couldn't become anywhere
else. It is difficult for me to express in words how appreciative I am
for that sacrifice.
As a result of that sacrifice of my mom, ten children of god have
chosen to be baptized into his church with an additional three this
Saturday. My mothers stats don't stop there however. Because of the
countless sacrifices of my mother, I and six other children's lives
have been forever influenced in the best way possible. I don't know
where I would be or in what condition I would be in without the loving
care of Beth Earl and I feel it necessary to confess that I would be
afraid to find out.

Sincerely, Elder Earl

Wednesday, May 7, 2014


May 6, 2014

Hey Everyone,
   This week was a pretty good week. We had a good amount of lessons and things just seemed to run smoothly. My street cred at the apartment complex continues to grow so I would say life's pretty solid. I still love being in Arizona and serving the people here. However, it hit 100 degrees multiple times this week and I know that it will just get worse. It's a good thing that we have a car.
   Transfers are this next week and I will be staying with Elder Clarke. In fact, absolutely nothing changed for us. I'm actually pretty surprised that they had us keep the YSA ward. I thought for sure we were going to be taken out of it.
   My weird experiences here in Mesa are either happening a lot less, or I'm just getting used to them and therefore ceasing to acknowledge them as weird. It's probably a combination of the two. Being in the Groves ward is pretty normal. People have tons of money, and no one walks around drunk. They all are out working until the evening and then at that point they stay inside with their families. It is rare to see someone outside which makes it difficult to be a missionary in this area. However, the members here are incredible at finding us things to do. I'm grateful for them.
   Lately I've been thinking a lot about how crazy it is that I'm on a mission. It's weird to think that for the first eighteen years of my life, going on a mission was just something that I would most likely do someday. Now that I've been out over seven months it's a pretty insane thing to think about. What's even crazier is how much I've grown in that short span of time.
   I remember when I was filling out my mission papers it still felt like this was just something that would happen someday, not in just a few months. I didn't really think about how much time I was actually devoting to The Lord. I didn't know what to expect either. For me this was just another step of my life and it would begin and end just like everything else. Little did I know that this would be the hardest thing that I've ever done. Yet because of how hard it is, I somehow love it more and more everyday.
   I remember the night before I entered the missionary training center. I was laying in bed. It was probably a little after midnight. I couldn't sleep. I remember thinking about how long two years actually is. I remember asking myself how I could possibly do this. I remember not finding an answer. I remember forgetting the thought and entering the MTC the next day, with all worries pushed to the back of my head.
   Now that I'm seven months out into the field, that question comes to my mind. How could I have possibly gone through the last seven months? How can I possibly continue to serve for seventeen more? The only answer I can come to is that we were created to do hard things.
   I believe I've written home about this before but this week and the thoughts that came with it gave me an important reminder that only through Christ can we do those hard things. Only when we humble ourselves enough to acknowledge our weaknesses and let Christ fill the gaps can we progress further in this mortal probation.
  2 Corinthians 12:9 and 10 says,  "And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
   Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong."
   We were created to be tried. We were created with weaknesses, with infirmities. We all have been and will continue to be persecuted for whatever reason and we will always, at one point or another, be distressed. But if we are humble and let Christ lift the burden, it will never be more then we can endure.
   For when we are weak, then are we strong.

   Elder Earl