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Excerpts from Mike's Letter Home:


Dear Family,

Once again I want to thank you for your continued support. It is most enjoyable getting mail, even if it is a little delayed with the Mission office forwarding.

We just went over to the new house this morning. Not much happened in the past week. We were told that they would be installing the sink & toilet (the real necessities for us to move in), but it was not done. We only worked on it a little this past week, so it was a surprise that the task had not been accomplished. We were mainly moving things out of the house into a storage shed, cleaning, and we got to seal some tile grout. Though, we are told that later we will be instructed on how to lay tile, something that could be quite a money saver later in life. Hopefully we will be able to move in this coming week, because it is really annoying being a missionary without a phone. The Mission office has requested that we call them every day so they can get updated and tell us of any important information that might have come up.

We had a pretty good day at church yesterday, though we didn't have any investigators show up. We had several that said they would, but none did. Plus, it seemed like a lot of the Ward wasn't there, so it was pretty slim. Anyways, Elders Quorum turned out to be a big political discussion. All about our reasons for being in Iraq, the media, etc. My thoughts the whole time were, "Hmmm... this sounds like something that would come up in a High Priests Quorum." Elders Quorum is usually on the gospel, though it may not be on the lesson and involves some deep doctrine. I was reminded that the few people mainly voicing their opinions were High Priests. That is because we have a "Melchizedek priesthood quorum" since there are not enough to break out into separate quorums (doesn't that sound like a branch to you?). We finally got on the lesson for maybe the last 15 minutes.

Choir practice went well. Though, it is obvious it is a small Ward choir, we don't warm up or anything. Anyways, we had a good practice and I will probably be singing a solo on "What Child is This" rather than "Oh Come All Ye Faithful", since a tenor sounds better for leading the choir in on "Oh Come all Ye Faithful". I also played piano for priesthood and got the compliment "it sounded good, it's been a long time since we were able to sing with a piano in priesthood" from the Bishop. So, all in all things are going well.

We had the Miami Christmas parade this past week. We went and saw it, since we did not expect too many people to be home. It was a nice little parade, which made me think, "Hmmm...Why don't we have anything like this at home?" The answer finally came to me, "there is no way you could have a 'Christmas' parade in a religiously diverse area, because even if you called it a 'winter parade' people would probably get offended by certain portrayals of the birth of Christ, etc. Though, I will say, some of the churches displayed some floats that I don't feel expressed the true reverence deserved of the season. It was a pretty long parade; they even threw the judges of the parade in it. One of whom was named Bob Barker, but I doubt it was the famous one. They also threw police cars into it. There were many baton twirlers, local businesses, and politicians. It was not joyful seeing people campaign in a parade in my view. There were also a few marching bands as well. Sadly, most of them were just marching to a cadence when they went by us. Also interesting was many of the small high school bands had two drum majors. I was thinking that receiving a band leadership position would be quite easy. Though, most of the bands weren't that good. The best one was probably Joplin High School. It did make me kind of miss the good old days, but not too much. I still was overly critical of their marching ability, etc.

We had District meeting this past week in Monett, MO. We had our Zone Leader & an Assistant to the President there. Both of their talks I remembered were given a year ago, one by President Peterson and another by a past Assistant. This coming week (on Thursday) we have interviews with President Nielsen. Hopefully that goes well. We have exchanges with the District Leader on Wednesday, but this time I am not complaining about it.

On Monday we had a pretty good discussion with a teenage friend of some of the girls in the Ward. He came in with a list of "errors of the Book of Mormon". Such things as Christ being born in Jerusalem, it saying all of the sons of Zedekiah being dead, and the use of the term Christian before it existed in the Holy Land. After we resolved most of those concerns (he was pretty open to ideas) we started in on a pretty typical first discussion. I wonder if it will progress, we will just have to wait and see. Either way, it was a nice positive conversation.

Right now, things are particularly tough since every one is saying "after Christmas", and we don't have a phone either. I don't think too much is being accomplished yet, but the area is bound to pick up. Though, I feel tracting in Miami is not too effective. We also got cussed out through a door for being Jehovah's Witnesses as well this week.

Sorry, I didn't have time to compile a list of things that I was going to respond to in your letters. Though, I will say we don't need a toaster, a Ward member has provided us with one. Though, they didn't pass around our dinner calendar and need list this past week. We left it on a table in the Relief Society room, but no one picked it up. I think we will be fine, we just need to get moved and hopefully soon. The house we are staying in is up for sale (with sign out front), but with the housing market out here they are not expecting it to be sold soon.

I think that is about it for now. I want to thank you for helping me with my many (and sometimes costly) requests. You are truly great! I am looking forward to receiving the package.  Let me know if there is anything I can do for you.  Take care, best wishes, and I hope Grandma is doing better!

Elder Mike Robinson

P.S. Those waiting for letters from me might have a little wait under all of the current circumstances. Once again, I will probably be back to my normal self "after Christmas"! Sorry about any delay.