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Excerpts from Mike's Letter Home:


Dear Family,

This week has been pretty interesting. On Tuesday we went over to have dinner with the family of the second counselor in Stake Presidency. We had been trying to call them since Monday night and finally got a hold of them at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday. Their phone line had accidentally been cut as they were attempting to install water in a work shed. They told us dinner would be in an hour and it would be brief. It was under thirty minutes actually.

Anyways, the interesting part was that one of their relatives from around Fresno, CA was visiting. He had on a Camp Chawanakee shirt. I commented on it and found out that both of us had worked there and had been there many times. Even the Second Counselor joined in the conversation (since they had moved from Fresno) and we all talked about good old Chawanakee. It was pretty interesting to be talking about it in Missouri. Though, Elder Weeks and the rest of the family had to carry on their own conversation since none of them had been there.

Later on, Book of Mormon trivia came up. The Second Counselor had read the BoM over 100 times, though he won't tell you that. He has a lot of it memorized, which is pretty amazing. Interestingly enough, Elder Weeks had been working on trivia to make his personal study more interesting. He asked the usual ones (for example, the six women mentioned by name in the BoM, the only French word in it, etc.) So, he was somewhat impressed that we knew them, but they always seem to be a part of missionary trivia. Though, he did ask us how many chapters there were, which is 239. Anyways, Elder Weeks asked him for the twelve chief judges in order. He didn't know it off the top of his head but he reasoned through 11 of them. The one he missed was Laconeous' son, which he argued didn't have a listed name do it didn't count. Though, quite a few people became bored of the conversation. It was just kind of different for a dinner appointment.

Speaking of the Book of Mormon, Elder Weeks was attempting to read the entire thing today (in 24 hours). He figured at 2 minutes per page, it would take 17 hours. After Second Nephi it became difficult for him. He finally took a nap in the middle of Jacob 5 and then decided not to continue, since he was behind schedule. It was an interesting idea, and who knows maybe some day I may try it. I already have read the second half in a night (the night before my second semester BYU final). Elder Weeks mentioned that now is probably the only time in our lives that we could accomplish it, which makes sense.

On Wednesday, I went on exchanges with our Zone Leader. I went down to Branson for the day. It was interesting, we got to teach a first discussion from a member referral. The interesting part was that the member had been in town for a short while in a hotel and prayed as to who he could share the gospel with. He went outside and immediately felt compelled to talk to his employee. The employee was an interesting guy when we talked to him. He was familiar with many eastern religions and practice some Egyptian religion. He claimed his life was changed after reading a book by an ex-CIA Mormon on astral projection. He was an interesting one to teach because he accepted new concepts so readily. Which is good in one way and bad in another. Though, the discussion went well. However, there will be some things to work on in later discussions. Though, that was not in my area.

That evening, I went with a member on splits (I know, it's exchanges... but it gets too confusing with missionary exchanges as well). We went and taught a new member discussion to a Spanish woman. So, yours truly got to bust out his Spanish abilities again. Since it has been so long, it was more difficult. About half way through, a guy who had just returned from the Phoenix Arizona (Spanish speaking) mission walked in. So, we traded off teaching principles. In the end, she understood me and didn't ask any questions. Someone else in the room (also a Spanish speaker) said that I did really well. It was good to have that experience again. I talked with the returned missionary for a while and got the mission home address, since that is where one of my friends from BYU went on his mission (the guy with me at the map at the MTC). We had submitted our papers the same day and left the same day. We lived on the same floor and were in Physics 220 together.

Also interesting was the member that I was there with. In talking with him, he had a masters in music. He was a pianist and taught orchestra at a school and was part of a Branson show by night. He also had a passion for bicycles, and we got into a big conversation about them. Also interesting was that at the school he is in charge of the computer lab as well. So needless to say, we had quite a bit in common. It was pretty nice.

The only half-way celebrity that I got to meet in Branson was the father of the Hughes Brothers. Though it was interesting that the Branson missionaries had 17 different splits they were going on during that week. That is a lot of member support. I don't know if I could keep up as a missionary. However, it did mean that while I was there on exchanges I only spent about an hour proselyting with my companion for the day, Elder Prall. He was the missionary trained by Elder Marshall immediately before me. In fact, we have four Elder Marshall trainees in our Zone (out the five I believe). I requested we take a picture, which we did.

We have had a small annoyance the past few days. Apparently our next door neighbors went on vacation for the weekend. Their alarm clock went off at 5:21 a.m. everyday since Thursday. Now, this is one of those alarm clocks that goes on for two hours and then stops. It is annoying! The worst part though is that we pushed the clocks back for the end of daylight savings. So, it is now going off at 4:21 a.m. for two hours. Hopefully they will get home soon. I guess it is just one of those reasons it is nice to own a home.

I also took one of my suits and a few ties in to be dry cleaned before we are required to wear suits every day. I ended up getting a gospel lesson out of it. One of my ties (my favorite blue one) had a paper attached to it. The paper read, "We are sorry but we've tried but we find that the stains on this garment cannot be removed without possible injury to the color or fabric. This has been called to your attention so that you will know it has not been overlooked."

This simple statement reminded me of Alma 5:21 - "... no man can be saved except his garments are washed white; yea his garments must be purified until they are cleansed from all stain, ..." I guess the real message is don't wait until it is too late to repent, your stains will have set in. Though, I sure hope my blue tie will not be washed white. Anyways, I looked and looked and cannot find a specific stain, so I think it is fine. Either way, it is my favorite tie. So, if you find another dark San Marino, Italy New York, pure polyester tie, you might pick it up for me. I love it! It is my most stain resistant tie and I think it looks good . Since it doesn't have any noticeable stains, I will continue wearing it. I will probably ask for ties for Christmas, I am kind of bored with a lot of mine.

Anyways, thank you for the Halloween card. It was nice, and I got one from Grandma as well. The money has helped to pay for my dry cleaning bill. Speaking of dry cleaning, is it okay to wash my suit slacks and dry them if you do not use any heat in the dryer? If you could answer that for me, it would be appreciated. It's not something I particularly want to experiment with.

The happenings with the rat, thumper and the air conditioner are most interesting. Though, I guess it would work better than any poison could have. It's not very animal friendly, but he brought it upon himself. Hopefully the air conditioner works fine and Thumper sleeps better at night.

Mom's new little digital camera looks pretty nice. However, I wonder how ten frames a second is going to look for the higher resolution. Since most TV and movies operate around thirty. Plus, with a USB transfer I don't know how fast it will transfer the video. Personally, a fire wire or a USB2 would be a better way to go, since video transfer can take awhile. How much was it? Let me know what you think of it, when you get it. I hope mom enjoys her new toy.

A few small things. How can dad make a CD entitled "Favorite Things" without including the song from the Sound of Music? It just seems like that should be on there, since you usually title a CD after one of the tracks. Sorry about possibly making the CD even more jam packed. Also, I want the piano to be tuned before I return home. I have gotten more sensitive to that, and plan to do a little playing at home. I also really hope that they got all of Squirt's cancer, I miss her.

One last thing to tell you about. After the Ward welfare meeting, I went in and started playing the piano in the chapel. I enjoyed playing on a grand piano again (uprights just aren't the same) and had a good time. The Stake President's wife came up and talked to me briefly. She mentioned that she didn't know that I could play. Though, what was nice is when I stopped playing, I left the stand and one of the member families asked me why I stopped playing. I told them that I had to greet people at the doors and didn't want to stop the person whose job it is to start the electronic organ playing the hymns on it's own. They told me the only reason they came into the chapel early was because of the music. I guess our family is not the only one opposed to electronics taking over the performing world. Though, they should be there for occasional Sunday when the organist runs late. Though, it was nice to be complimented on it and get a chance to play again. They told me that "I was good" and next time I came over it would be mandatory that I play. That made me feel good, but I don't know if their upright is tune. Oh well, I have played on one that I thought was a honkey tonk piano on my mission. Anyways, I am just happy that I had progressed, though I wish there was more practice time.

Take care my family, I miss you all greatly. Happy Halloween! I wish you all the best and hope you are doing well. Two months until the next call home!

Elder Mike Robinson