Thanks for the email! I'll try to update you a bit on some of the people here. Katherine got a calling as some kind of assistant in the Relief Society and has been to church most weeks in the past month and a half or so... Katelin still hasn't come! Gahh. She gets a lot of negative pressure from her Dad not to take the church seriously or attend church so that's a challenge.
We've visited Al and Candice a couple times in the last few weeks and Al is about the same. He is learning line upon line. God knows the time it will take for each of His children to accept and follow the Spirit, and I feel strongly Al will get there someday. We were never able to get back in contact with Deena or the Lanes :( Elder Elton will keep trying to visit them hopefully! We have had some really good contact with a new family, David and Michelle and their 12 year old daughter. They have been so friendly! We did the prayer approach with them and it was powerful! They invited us back for dinner and we ate with them last Friday and taught the first lesson. They are very faithful people and know how to recognize the Spirit. I wish I could keep teaching them! I've kind of gotten used to Elton’s talking but it's still weird - haha... it's just weird. I'll explain more later.
That's hilarious about your talk on Sunday!! LOL! I wish I could have been there for the joke and I'm sure the talk was really good too! ahahaha.
I have become pretty excited this week to be home and reunite with everyone. I've worked as hard as I can and do feel good about my service this past few weeks. I have loved my mission so much and will be sad to leave it, but the closer I get to coming home the more right it feels that it's time to move on with life. I am so grateful for all the support from everyone back home. Thank you all so much. I will carry a Book of Mormon with me and plan to deliver it to whoever feels right. I will see you all on Wednesday!!
Elder William J. Marks
My Dear Mother and Father,
It made my heart so happy as I read from both your emails today. I am so grateful and blessed to have you all back home praying for me and living worthy lives. I love each of you so much.
"Surreal" is probably the best word I could think of as I finish these last few weeks. It's been strange pondering about my mission and coming home. I took the opportunity a few weeks ago to re-read my mission journals. I still haven't missed a day. Those are a real treasure to me and I'm so thankful you gave me the advice to keep a journal on my mission. It helped me a lot to read about many of the experiences I've had on my mission that I already forgot about, and realize that I actually have served for as long as I have because sometimes it feels like I just came out last week!
That sounds good talking in the ware on the 26th, and reporting to the Stake before then. I think that kind of stuff would have had me feeling worried or anxious prior to my mission, but not anymore. I have tried to think about what I have really learned most on my mission, and there is a lot I have learned and strengthened my testimony, but I feel like the biggest area of spiritual growth is that I have learned to trust God and the promptings of His Spirit. Therefore it feels suiting that I am coming home early - haha, because I really do trust that it's where God would have me be. Things don't happen by mistake! There are far too many people on earth, but especially in the church, (considering the perspective we have) who worry worry worry way too much! Learn from the past, LIVE IN THE MOMENT, and plan for the future. I believe if we regret our pasts or worry about the future too much then we're not enjoying life as much as God would like us to and we're missing the point!
... Good grief I just saw Kylie’s email, idk how she types that fast or that much - lol.
Mom, thanks for telling me about going out with the people from work with Dad. I think that's so interesting to hear about the social aspects that most people deal with. I am sooo glad we don't drink. There has never been any temptation there for me and I'm so grateful for that. It is also neat to hear about Erika and Garrett. I sure miss those guys! I have really felt everyone's prayers. That means more than you all know. Thank you.
There is a guy in the ward here who has been serving in California for the past 6 months or so who had to come home last week because his appendix burst and got infected really bad. I've been able to help him out with the transition back home and he has helped me as well. He's the son of the Arsenault family, who we are pretty close with, so that's been cool to relate a bit with him about the trial he's going through. He plans on returning within the next 2 months or so once he heals up.
Well, I look forward to talking with you all on Sunday! I cherish each one of you and love you dearly.
Elder W. Marks
P.S. I actually really do love "humble circumstances"! I love where we live and look forward to seeing my mountains and the lake again! ... ain’t nothing wrong with a bunk bed - haha. I've become a lot cleaner on my mission and so Garrett is gonna have to straighten up his stuff LOL!
My Dear Family,
My heart is full this week as I can feel my service as one of the Lord’s missionaries coming to a close. I really appreciated your words of advice and your insights. It gave me some good things to think about, and I can feel the Spirit of your conversions and love for the Lord, His Gospel, and me. That means a lot.
It is my biggest desire to finish as strong as I can. To keep my faith, maintain my virtue, and hold strong to my integrity. I do love this Gospel. It has been hard not finishing as strong as I imagined I would. I have heard my whole mission that usually once you hit your 18 month mark or so you're at peak performance and can really be most effective as a servant of God. I feel that for me that peak came around my year mark, at that time nothing could stop me. We had a lot of success with baptisms and I just felt locked into the work of the Lord. Right now I feel that my heart is still in this work, and my Spirit wants to keep pressing forward but I cannot because of my body. Last week we taught 7 lessons, all to less active members... I have felt very strongly there is something important for me to learn in these last few weeks. Will you pray that I will be able to finish my mission in a way that is pleasing to God? If I can do that my soul will be happy. I hope you all know that I have come to terms with the current situation and I am not having a little pity party for the next 3 weeks over here - lol.
... I believe there are going to be opportunities to share the gospel back home that perhaps I need to be there for.
The lesson with Deena and her family fell through and we're trying to reschedule. The other referral’s address was bad, but we called the number and left a message. We are staying optimistic with them though.
I got a text from President last week asking me which airport I wanted to fly in at and I told him the Spokane, Washington airport and shortly after he sent me my flight info. I've never flown alone before but it doesn't seem to hard - haha... I get to go on an adventure! lol
Oregon sounds fun! I would love to just relax on the beach and watch the tide come in. I love the ocean. I look forward to talking with the family on Mother’s day... I don't think this phone call will be 4 hours though - lol. It will be good to talk with everyone:)
I still need to shoot President a quick email and feel I need to write Kylie a bit today. I hope you each know how special you are to me. I miss you guys and look forward to seeing each of you. Thank you for everything.
Elder W. Marks
Thank you everyone for your fasting and prayers! I really felt it today as I read from your emails and feel so grateful to have the power of your faith on my side. I will fill you in on as many details I can think of about the knee as of right now...
My brace has metal on the inside and it's small enough I wear it under my pants, my knee still has plenty of motion I just have to be super careful! I wasn't using crutches at all last week until church yesterday and I'm going to start using them more because my other knee was forming a pretty good bruise because of all the compensation.
I can really feel your support despite what happens and that means a lot to me. I would really like to finish this transfer (4 weeks) and then come home for the surgery. As of right now that's what feels right and I feel I can finish the next month safely. I have been resting and icing a lot, pretty much unless we have set appointments. I feel that once I come home, I would be home for good. I don't know why but I feel a pull to be home right now. I don't know if there's someone there who needs me or who I need or what but it feels right the more I pray and ponder about it.
...Because of the amount of faith and fasting extended on my behalf if it was God’s Will for me to be miraculously healed I know I would be healed.
It's not too painful unless I overextend it then it's excruciating... so I try not to do that haha.
God has blessed Elder Elton and I despite not being able to work as diligently as we would like. This area is kind of notorious for never getting media referrals (like 1 every 6 months) because it's so small nobody that requests anything ever lives in the area - haha... last week we got 2! We've contacted one of them for a woman named Deena (no idea how to spell) and her family. Apparently they used to meet with missionaries in Utah and moved here and lost contact. Her and her husband and 3 kids (1 is 15 years old and the other 2 are under 8years old). We have an appointment with them tonight! So we'll see, but we both feel really good about it!
I called and spoke with Kimberly the other day. She's doing alright, still struggling with a few things. She's got some tough challenges with her MS and anxiety. She's had a pretty tough life. She has not gone to the temple yet but is still working towards it. I think that would mean sooo much to her to receive a letter or call! She is a great lady.
I think that's great Janie got to come up! I forgot it was her and Grandma's birthday! She really does give super long hugs - haha.
Well, I'll keep you posted throughout the week. I picked up my MRI CD after I spoke with you and sent it the next day so they should hopefully have it by now. And I have the x-ray results. I really love you all. I wish I could do better at articulating sometimes but just know you all mean the world to me. Each of you are so special and have powerful spirits. Thank the family for me for their faith and sacrifice for me. God be with you!
Elder W. Marks
Hey, so first off you've gotta name one of the chicks Maximus for me! haha I think it would work well for a chicken... ;o)
Thanks for the info about meniscus tears. I don't know how bad it is yet... I should be hearing today. I called the office this morning and left a message so they should be calling back hopefully. My range of motion has increased a little bit. Very little but still signs of improvement. I've been resting it and icing it a lot the past 2 weeks. I'll keep you posted!
My new companions name is Elder Elton. He's from Dublin, Ohio and has a funny accent I'm trying to get used to and be patient with - haha. He's a great guy though and a powerful missionary. We actually came out in the same group from the MTC but I didn't know him very well because we were in different districts, but I knew him a bit. Elder Meeks actually trained him and he served with Elder Bradley for 2 1/2 transfers before he got called to be an AP, so we've got some common grounds. He is a ZL also. The way that works is they always have 2 ZL's together and then if a particular missionary needs help they will sometimes put them with a ZL companionship.
I am glad to hear that your Relief Society activity was a success! I love that talk by President Uchtdorf, it teaches a powerful principle that everyone in the church would do well to apply. Elder Elton and I both gave 20 min. talks on Sunday, I spoke about missionary work in general and how we can work together better with the ward, what they can do for us, and the main portion of my talk was about the power of having a willing heart and mind and what that meant.
We really don't have a whole lot of investigators to tell you about right now honestly. We've got a handful of people that have been investigating for quite a while that we're trying to help progress. Al West is one of them, we're seeing him and his wife (who is a member) tonight. He is a very analytical thinker and very critical thinker when he hears things. I don't think this is a negative attribute it's just taking him a while to catch the vision. I feel I have been able to help him out because I've been taught how to communicate with people on more of a philosophical and analytical level (Thanks Dad! haha). I can't see him not getting baptized someday. He has more faith than he realizes and I believe he's honestly seeking truth.
Katherine and her daughter Katelin are some others we're teaching. Katherine is the mother and is a member... Katelin is her 13 year old daughter who has been taking the lessons. Katherine is returning to activity after a couple decades of being inactive and it's been great to see her make changes. Her husband, Joe, is not interested at all and kind of gives us a hard time when we're there but he's harmless enough. Katelin's biggest obstacle is that she hasn't come to church yet. I guess she had a bad experience when she was little and felt like she was forced to read so she is hesitant to come back.
...I just got the call from the Doctor about my knee. He didn't bring much good news. He told me I ruptured my ACL, have a tear in my meniscus, overstretched the ligaments, and banged up the bone pretty good. The ligament and bone damage he said will heal just fine with time, but the ACL and meniscus will require surgery within the next 2-3 weeks but the recovery time is optimistic... he said within a week after the surgery I could be walking a little bit as needed and should be able to walk pretty actively within 3-4 weeks after but obviously no running or activity for a while, 3-6 months. I just tried calling President to see what the policy is on this and he didn't answer so I'll wait to hear from him and let you know.
I love you all. I am really hoping for the best on this knee thing. To be honest I'm a bit scared what will be required to get it healthy. I don't know what the requirements are for recovery time to be able to stay out. Thank you for your prayers and for your faith.
Elder William Marks
Dear Mom and Dad,
Hey thanks so much for your faithfulness in emailing me. There are a number of Elders I know that rarely get emails from their fathers and it means a lot to me that you both take the time every week to email. I understand the weeks you can't or it must be short, but I really do appreciate it. Thanks!
I did receive the Easter package last Monday! That absolutely made my day. I felt so good as I read your letters and thought about each of you, you are each so special to me in your own ways. I will try to reply to them in due time! ...and Mom, the chocolate bunnies and eggs were much appreciated as well - haha :D Thank you all so much. Those letters meant more than I believe you realize.
Elder Meeks is getting transferred tomorrow. I feel I am taking this area over quickly but it doesn't even phase me anymore - haha. I would have been nervous at the beginning of my mission to take an area over after just one transfer but this is the lifestyle so it's really not a big deal. Our big focus this coming transfer will be to find find find! Our ward boundaries are very small and we have a car because we're ZL's so we run out of people to see very quickly. We need to find more. I am going to be as optimistic about it as I can!
I loved looking at the pictures of the chicken coop project!! That was so cool to see the fam working on a project like that! I really do wish I could have been there to be a part of it. It's strange for me to see how people look a bit different... Mom is your hair long!? It looks good but it threw me for a loop haha I had no idea!
President Maynes told me no more sports or running of any kind for the rest of my mission. He is concerned about my knee. I will find out on Wednesday, hopefully some helpful information about what exactly the damage is and what needs to be done. Thank you for the prayers on my behalf. I really hope and pray for a full recovery. As of right now it's not feeling too good. I stepped off a curb wrong last night and accidentally straightened it. It hurt so bad. Until then it was feeling a bit better but now it's back where it was. I'll fill you in sometime this week after I know what's up.
I got a letter the other day from Kylie and she sent me a reaaally cool ring that says "Return with Honor" I'm sure you probably knew about it but I was super excited. I love the way she thinks of cool things like that... it makes me feel like a slacker - haha.
Elder Holland’s talk really spoke to me as well. He delivers so powerfully! And his message is always right on the money.
Alright I'm going to shoot President a quick email before we have to go. I sure love you all and think of each of you often. You mean the world to me! Oh! That's awesome about Spencer going to the Marshall Islands!!! That will be such an amazing experience for him and will help him a lot. I love you all, have a great great week!
Elder W. Marks
...I've got a compression brace that helps a bit but doesn’t provide much support. Love ya!
I just wanted to shoot you a quick email and let you know about an injury I got last Monday (4/1). We were playing football and I hurt my right knee pretty bad, just running the ball and juking(spelling?) people. I just cut too hard and at the wrong angle and my knee snapped out to the side and I just dropped instantly. Hurt like Hell. There were 2 pretty distinct pops so I don't know if it popped out of socket and then back in or if there is ligament damage or what... I have an appointment with the doctor next Wednesday to see what the damage is. My range of motion without much pain is from about 90-160 degrees. It has gotten a bit better just since Monday but I am anxious to find out what the damage really is. I am handling it alright... just limping around - haha. I hope you don't worry to much, I just wanted to let you know so you were up to date. Love you all!
Elder W. Marks
Dear Mom and Dad!
I sure love you guys! I hope you know I am happy and relatively healthy;) I never got allergies growing up at all but I got some mild allergies last year and this year it hit me pretty hard over night...it's just so dry here and everything is in bloom. My back has been about the same...a bit worse the last little while but I'm handling it well.
I understand some weeks just have to be brief but I really appreciate you both taking the time to shoot a quick email anyway, I always love hearing from you no matter how brief it may be. I loved the comment about being nice to small children and dogs... unless they deserve otherwise HAHAHA that's been my philosophy as well - lol. I have really been intrigued and amused at how some people choose to parent their children or have a serious lack thereof. People are so interesting.
Easter was so great. I am grateful for the Atonement that was performed and the infinite blessings it brought.
It was really weird for me to hit my 18 month mark last week, it was sad and exciting. Transfer meeting is in a week and a lot of the Elders I've become good friends with and bonded with are going home either next week or next transfer. It's strange to be one of the "seasoned missionaries", and still serving as a Zone Leader everybody expects me to have every answer to all their problems - lol. But I love it, I won't be ready to come home until I am released. Even then I know aspects of it will be hard but I appreciated the advice you gave me when we talked at Christmas that just like the Spirit helped me adjust to my mission quickly, it will help me adjust to coming home and ending my mission. I love my mission.
I am really looking forward to General Conference next weekend. I've grown to appreciate the significance of having prophets and apostles on the earth today and I look forward to hearing from them. I hope you all can let the Spirit tell you ways to improve and grow this weekend as you listen to conference. I'll be doing the same! I love you all!
Elder W. Marks
"You can either be smart and happy... or stupid and miserable... it's your choice!"
Kylie shared this quote with me... you gotta love President Hinckley!
I am glad to hear everything is going well at home. WAY TO GO with getting some of the blocks in a store!! That's super awesome!
I can't believe you got to go to an Alex Boye concert! I never heard of him before my mission but I've been listening to his music since like day one! I really like his unique twist on music and his style. Peponi is like my favorite song on that CD you gave me. I think that's really cool you got to see him:)
Dad, I received your letter last Monday. That meant so much to me. I sent a reply letter on like Wednesday or Thursday so it should be there or getting there today. I feel there is a lot I felt and wanted to say that was hard to in my letter but I hope you know I really do appreciate that a lot. I've read it multiple times and I gave a training in a District Meeting in the Zone on "the value of peace within" and have been able to share your insights on the subject multiple times while teaching and helping other missionaries. Thank you so much.
Elder Bradley got called as the Assistant about a month ago and he came on exchanges with me and Elder Meeks last week. It was so fun to work with him again and to see the way he's changed and grown. We started teaching this family, the Lane's, last week. They've kinda met with missionaries in the past a little bit. They're in there mid 60's and have a lot of faith. This is good but they are very founded in their own church so it also brings challenges. Their neighbors are the ones that introduced them to the church.
We've started doing this thing called "the prayer approach". We can use it as an approach for tracting, for picking up former investigators, for solidifying potential investigators, to build trust with members, etc. When tracting we say something like, "We are representatives of Jesus Christ and he has sent us here to leave a blessing of His peace and love upon your home. Would you allow us to leave this blessing with you?" Obviously it's different every time but that's the idea. We talk with them and ask anything they would like us to pray for or loved ones or friends going through a rough time and one of us writes down the information (obviously we explain why we're writing it down). Then we kneel down and invite them to join us as we are kneeling. We then offer a prayer and blessing on their home and whatever other information they gave us, saying something like..."In the name of Jesus Christ, and by the authority of His Holy Priesthood, we leave the peace and blessings of the Savior upon this home." And then just leave a blessing according to what and who they asked you to pray for and according to the Spirit. We've only done this twice so far and it's been so powerful both times. We did it with the Lane's the other night and they were so touched. For many people it's the most Spiritual experience they've ever experienced inside the walls of their own home. We have a return appointment with them this Thursday!
I'm excited to see where Spencer goes! That's pretty cool he'll be going soon. I need to write him a letter soon.
I'd better be going but I sure love you all so much. Mom, Thanks for the concern about my back. I'm handling it all right. I hope you all have a great week!
Elder W. Marks