Here is a copy of a letter I wrote for Michael (ahem... Elder B) yesterday. I thought it would be good to record for journaling purposes, as it covers a whole lot of what we've been up to lately. For those of you who don't know and care to: My little brother, Michael, is currently serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. He will serve for two whole years, 24/7, and he only recently started. I was so nervous for him... scared he would be lonely or sad, nervous he would struggle with the language (his mission is Spanish-speaking), afraid he would have a bad first impression, etc. As such, I was thrilled to hear otherwise: to learn that he was happy, had made friends, and was feeling the Spirit strongly and knowing that what he was doing and Whom he was doing it for were all worth it. I'm so proud of this kid! Anyway, here is my letter in reply to his first. Enjoy... but be warned: it's wordy.
Dear Elder B,
Thank you so much for your letter! It absolutely made my day! Your drawing was also great. It made me smile. :) I'm sorry this letter is in English. I'll work on the whole Español thing...
So, hi! Right now it is 9:30am. Derek is at work, and James, Jolie and I are kicking it in the living room. James is building LEGOs, and Jolie is trying to "help." hehe. I was able to distract her, though. Right now she's coloring a picture for you. It's spectacular ... (wink).
We threw James a birthday party on the 14th - a couple of Saturdays ago. It was a LEGO party, and it was lots of fun. We made a LEGO piñata, played "I Spy the LEGO Guy," did a pin-the-parts-on-the-LEGO-kid game, and ate a yummy LEGO cake. We even scored soem LEGO-shaped candies to serve! Super fun! It was also super time intensive, getting everything together. He was so happy, though. I'd do it again in a heartbeat. And that is why James is currently building LEGOs. He got a whole bunch of sets as gifts, and he's been just a little bit obsessed since then. :) It's kinda cute.
And what has Jolie been up to? Hm. Well she's been taking swimming lessons (so has James...). She and I do Water Babies - a parent and child class. I basically hold her and help her learn how to blow bubbles in the water, kick her legs, float on her back, etc. She really hates floating on her back. She can't handle getting her ears wet. But hey, getting her angry results in more kicking. So we'll take it. :)
As for Derek and me, we're just doing the same ol' thing. Derek goes to work, comes home to hang with the fam, and then when kids are in bed, he generally plays games. Currently he's into an online Lord of the Rings game. I do swimming lessons with the kids, do the rest of the mom-things all day, and then (on Tue/Thur at least) go to work and teach people English. After I come home, I generally stay up way too late watching Ugly Betty via Netflix! Wow, we waste a lot of time!
We have gotten back into reading scriptures together at night again (we're kind of off and on with that, or have been lately). It's been really fun! We got a book from Julie a few years ago called "Unlocking the Book of Mormon." We found it again and have been studying from it again. We really love it! On one side of each page, it has the (unaltered) actual scriptures. Then on the other side of the page it has quotes from prophets and other people (scholars, etc) as well as additional helpful information: historical side notes, maps, pictures, etc. It makes the Book of Mormon come alive for me and helps me make better sense of the plot, etc. It's fun! And Derek (probably thanks to his mission) knows a ton more about the scriptures than I do, so discussing it all with him is really cool.
Oh- one last thing we've been up to: the kids (along with Shawn and Mindy's girls) dressed up as pioneers ad marched in the 24th of July parade! They were sooo cute! James wore a cowboy hat, bandanna and chaps. Jolie wore a bonnet, apron and skirt. James also carried a stick horse and "galloped" on occasion. That got quite the crowd reaction; it was pretty adorable. Oh, and Jolie wants to add that she carried a baby (doll). I'll try to print out a few pictures so you can see. No promises, though. I'm pretty sucky at printing pics.
As for you, keep up the good work! It sounds like you're doing really well. I'm so, so glad to hear it. I'm glad you've made friends with the guys in your district. They sound like a lot of fun! And best of all, I'm thrilled that you're having such a positive, spiritual experience there. You're a good missionary and a good guy. I"m so proud of you!
I love you so, so much! I'm so proud of you as well! You are doing the Lord's work. Thank you. 'Hope to hear from you soon!
Lots of love,