Tuesday, August 31, 2010

31 August 2010

Hey family!!
I have finally made it to California! I am currently in a city called Mira Mesa. We are about 25 minutes from the beach. It is right next to Miramar, where the military base is. We are serving in the Mira Mesa 2nd Ward, and the Black Mountain YSA branch.
The first day or two I was dying because I was sweating like a fire hydrant from the humidity, but I've gotten used to it now. Some days it's hot, but it's not unbearable. Short-sleeved shirts are awesome.
President Cook and his wife are so awesome. They are great leaders and great listeners. He said my name right the first time, which was cool, because no one ever does. My companion still messes my name up sometimes.
My companion's name is Elder Hinds. He is from Pearland, TX, which is just south of Houston. He has been out for almost 15 months. He, along with all the other missionaries, is extremely obedient. The mission is full of obedient missionaries. A minute late to get up, get to bed, be in the apartment at 9, etc, is unacceptable. It's awesome. He has a strong testimony, and is very faithful. He doesn't have the most upbeat personality, but that's okay.
Mom, my bike is WONDERFUL. It's a smooth ride, the gears work, and best of all, it's really light. Apparently it's made of aluminum so it's light and therefore easier to pedal.
The night I got here, we set down my bags in the apartment and jumped right to work. It was a little intimidating, but oh well. We had an appointment with our best and most progressing investigator, Becca (edit last name). Becca is around 24ish, going through a divorce, and best friends with another girl in the family ward. We taught her about the restoration, and committed her to read the BoM and pray. We also watched the Finding Faith in Christ DVD. She is having a very hard time in her life, but she is so awesome for trying to press through it. She is going to be baptized on September 18.
It's amazing how many people we teach. We currently have about 7 investigators, 2 others who are almost investigators, 8 referrals, 4 LARC (less active/recent converts), and about 20 potential investigators. As well as seeing as many of those as we can every day, we tract and contact about 2-3 hours a day. Needless to say, work is very busy. We have a car-share, which is we get the car Thurs-Sunday, and the companionship in the area next to us, who we share with, gets it the rest of the week. Mon-Wed we use bikes, and Tuesday is our P-Day.
Our district is awesome. Elder Snyder is our District Leader, and he is from Sandy. He's been out 13 months I believe. His companion is a greenie like me. Next week we go on companion exchanges with the Zone Leaders. I am going with Elder Kim to Del Mar, and Elder Hinds is staying in our area with Elder... I forgot his name. Del Mar is the richest ward in the church, and pays the most tithing. It is right next to the beach. I am excited for that day!
Other investigators are Charles, who is divorced, in his 40s, and going through the lowest of low times one can come across. He's been out of work for 15 months, and has been back and forth between his sister's house in our ward, and a homeless shelter in downtown San Diego. But, he has some of the strongest faith I've seen anyone have. He still trusts in the Lord that he can find a job and get on his feet.
Another is Ben and Kristin (edit last name). Kristin is a less active member, and Ben is a non-member who has a big problem with the Word of Wisdom. He smokes a drinks a lot, and has admitted to an addiction to coffee. I challenged him to not have any coffee today, and take an ibuprofen for the headache. He said he would, and I will call to see how it went. They met with missionaries before, but ended up being flaky and cancelled appointments a lot. We gave him a Book of Mormon and he agreed to read it with us as much as he can, since he can't understand it very well (he and Kristin both have learning disorders). They are wonderful souls, and I think they will eventually be baptized.
I am out of time, so I will have to send it as it is. Everyone have a WONDERFUL week and send me mail!!!
Love you all
Elder La Follette

Monday, August 23, 2010

23 August 2010

Hi Family!!!

Another week is suddenly gone, and tomorrow it is time to depart to the mission field. The MTC has gone by so fast, looking back. I've had two amazing teachers, Brothers Losee and Thacker. They are different in personality completely, but both have helped me and my district so much in learning how to effectively share the Gospel with others. My district has been amazing. We have been family to one another, since we are all away from our real families. I will send pictures home soon, so you can see what everything looks like!

I now know how missionaries are weird when they get home. The MTC is like being in seminary or institute all day, every day. You can't be doing that and not have a completely different mind set than what you've had the rest of your life. It's amazing, though. The Spirit is always so strong here in the MTC, and everyone has strong testimonies of the truth.

This week we had our final practice teaching appointments. Louise, who we were visiting for the second time, brought her husband this time, which was at first intimidating. The biggest reason was that we came to the door to knock, and realized we didn't remember at all what we had taught her the previous week, because we have so many people to teach and no where to write everything down yet. But, her husband said "Louise told me everything you talked to her about last week! It's amazing!" So we responded "Great!! What did she tell you?" Whew! We committed her and her husband to being baptized in that lesson. Of course, these are members being good actors as investigators, but they really help in knowing how to teach. I feel comfortable now walking into someone's home and getting to know them and talking about the Gospel. It's amazing how far I've come in three weeks, really.

We got a new set of missionaries this week, just like every week. But this time, our district was selected to help host the new missionaries, just like I was. I got to take 3 different missionaries around to get all their supplies, to their room, and to meet their district. One was from TN, one was from Boise (a big BSU fan, so we talked about football), and one went to Timpview High. My companion thinks I'm so popular because I've been seeing so many people from high school and college!

In our fireside last night, there was an especially beautiful musical number, a trio of piano, cello, and the best male voice I've ever heard, performing "I Know My Redeemer Lives" It was so amazing and reverent, that the main speaker asked to cancel the planned closing hymn so they could perform it again. It was amazing. This morning in the temple, the elder who sang was in the same temple session as me and my district. Very cool! I guess he's a celebrity now at the MTC.

That's about all for this week, I think. I will get up at 4am tomorrow to report to the travel desk, and travel to SLC, and call y'all, and fly out to San Diego! Thus begins the mission.

Thank you all for the updates. I am proud of Joe and Daniell! I wish I could be at the wedding!!!

I love you all dearly, and I will talk to you soon

Elder La Follette

Thursday, August 19, 2010

16 August 2010

Mom,

here's the rest of the letter. Have Camille post it.

It's hard to really say what I'm learning, except that it's just... missionary stuff. Finding, loving, teaching, baptizing. That's about it. Lots of sitting. The camelack is the only thing keeping me awake sometimes.

Went to the temple again today. Went last week too. We go on P-Day morning at the MTC.

Another batch of elders left this morning, and the last 4 from their district leave tomorrow. Suddenly, we're the oldest district left. There are 3 districts to a zone here.

I leave the MTC a week from tomorrow. Tuesday the 24th. We report to the travel office @ 5am. We drive to the airport and then fly to San Diego, then drive up to the mission. It's coming so fast! I can't wait to get to real work. I just want to teach and baptize already.



(Addendum #1) Make sure Dad and Joe and M/Tara remember to write or email. I know how easy it is to forget so I don't blame any of them. Letters are nice though.

I need mailing address for M/Em, M/Tara, Joe, and Dad.



(Addendum #2)
Mom, forgot some things.

The other day, I met Elder Roark, who is going to Carlsbad Spanish speaking. He said my name right the first time and I was confused and asked how he knew. He is from a town 20 min. from LaFollette, TN. Cool, huh!

I've also been asked to play piano for priesthood and prelude music for sacrament meeting. Big surprise... ha ha.

I think that's all I forgot.
-Jon



(Addendum #3)
Oh yeah!
I get a phone call before I get on the plane. I will let you know how many minutes I get. Depends on how many I buy. Probably half hour or so. It'll be like 6:30 or 7:00. Will be early. make sure you're up!

Monday, August 16, 2010

(Blog-Keeper's Note)

Unless the author indicates otherwise, comments on this page will likely be sent to Elder La Follette.

Keep writing to him!

15 Aug 2010

Hi family! The computer is dumb and just took like half my time away so I will try to type fast.

This week was awesome. I've always heard to "make it to Sunday and then it will go fast"
Completely true. I woke up Monday morning and suddenly it was Friday and Saturday again.

Speaking of Friday, Camille may have told you there were firetrucks and sirens and stuff at the MTC. It was Friday the 13th, and on my way to breakfast I saw everyone standing outside. Come to find out, the fire alarm had gone off. Sister Decker said she saw a jammed toaster and some black toast right before the alarm went off. I was irritated because I was hungry, and we were about to miss our teaching appointment. But, 45 min later we were able to go and eat, and the TA people said they'd made a mistake and ended up bumping us back an hour anyway, so it all worked out.

We had a fireside last night all about music. Three composers of hymns came in to speak about the hymns they have written. The final speaker was Newell Dayley, who Camille might remember, was one of the men that helped our Jazz Band when we did the MENC project. He wrote Lord, I Would Follow Thee. The two others were Thomas Durham and Stephen Jones. Most of the missionaries I could see were bored out of our minds, but us musicians were fascinated and had our hymnbooks out the whole time. Elder Cathcart (of another district. He will depart for Fort Worth tomorrow) and I were just eating up everything they said. He is a lot like me, except from AZ. He is a percussionist, loves music, and he played baseball in high school and is a big Diamondbacks and Padres fan. We have a very fun zone. Some missionaries left at 3am this morning to West Indies and South Africa. The South Africa missionaries are on a 36-hour journey to Cape Town. I do not envy them.

I am learning a lot here. We study as much in 15 min as normal people do at home in a week or two. We are cramming our brains full of teaching goodies, and learning how to concentrate on investigators' needs. We teach people, not lessons. I love it here. The Spirit is almost always very strong. Some days you just don't have it though, and you have a "stupor of thought" feeling all day. It's awful! I hope I have as few as possible days like that in the field.

I am glad everyone is doing well. My time is running out because the computer is dumb. I will handwrite again whatever else is left to say. I love all of you very, very much. Your support is awesome. Keep sending letters. The MTC is a wonderful place, but a very hard place to be, and letters are a huge morale boost.

Also, send my camera card so I can send pictures back with some explanations.

The Gospel is True, and God loves you all.

Elder La Follette

Monday, August 9, 2010

9 Aug 2010

Hi Family
Just send me goodies you know I like, I don't care what kind! Also, on Wednesday nights, our zone has "fiestas" where we all share and put some food in a big box and we all partake of the goodness.
I squirt bottle would be nice. My exercise clothes get wrinkly, and it gets hot sometimes. The air conditioning at the MTC isn't very good sometimes.
I am glad you're doing well. I am doing well here, and staying very busy! Of course there isn't a lot of down time so there isn't much time to think about home, which is good. It is weird sometimes to look out the window in class and see the mountains I've grown up around. The hardest part is during gym when we go outside and I can the area where my house is. But I am soon distracted by the joys of sand volleyball with the other elders and sisters.
The MTC is awesome. There is a LOT of work to do everyday. The schedule changes daily because the MTC has to accomodate so many missionaries. My district is better than I could have hoped for. They are Elders Turner (from WA), Buttars (from Logan), Bennett (from Syracuse UT), Johnson (from Holliday UT)--they are all going to Phoenix--, and Elders Hart (from Ogden), Owens (from San Antonio), and my companion, Elder Zarate from Ithica, NY (said Zuh ROT ay). The last three elders and myself are the Carlsbad missionaries. We also have four sisters, Sisters Ashby (from Springville), Thurston (from Burley ID, wherever that is), Decker (from West Jordan) and Lyman (from NC). We all get along very well and have a great time working together. Our two teachers are very different, but both amazing. One of our zone leaders reminds me exactly of Mayor Quimby in the way he sounds and acts, which is funny because his name is Elder Simpson.
The other day we were outside studying as a mission and a bird flew under the tree we were by and pooped on Elder Owens' journal. We had a great time laughing at that. We don't study outside much anymore!
My branch president lives on Osmond Lane, President Myers. Maybe you know him. Our church meeting yesterday was so awesome. We had priesthood in the morning, in which Elders Hart and Owens had to wing a short lesson on blessings because the branch presidency forgot to let them know in advance what the topic was. That's how the missionary talks work. Everyone in the branch prepares a short talk, and two are chosen to speak out of the congregation with no warning. The music is the best here. We aren't allowed to listen to music on CDs or anything so live is all we get. The departing district in our zone sang a musical number, Joseph Smith's First Prayer, with a gorgeous piano part. After two verses, the piano played the melody while one elder recited the account of the vision, then they proceeded with the last verse. If you pick up a hymnbook and read and imagine what it sounded like, maybe you'll get some of the overwhelming spirit we had in the meeting.
The fireside last night was decent, but not as powerful as church. But, there is no sound in the world like a beastly organ and 3,000 missionaries singing their guts out to Hope of Israel and We Will Bring the World His Truth. In the second hymn, the words were changed from "we will be the Lord's missionaries" to "we are now the Lord's missionaries." That was so, so, so powerful.
I've seen a lot of friends here from high school and college and other places. I've seen a lot of Ryan. We have eaten together, and talked in the halls. He came by with his companion last night to say goodbye, as he left this morning for New York. He will be a great missionary.
My new nickname after a night of loud snoring is "Hermano Oso", which is Brother Bear.
Let Kevin know my whole district is praying for him.
My time is running short, we have a timer for 30 min until the computer shuts off. Send mail, email and packages! I will write on Mondays, my P-Day.
Also, there is a pile of institute stuff on my desk, particularly a diagram of the plan of salvation. If you could send that to me, that would be wonderful. Also, send my other camera card. I want to send my other one home next week so I can show you my pictures.
If there is anything else to say, I'll send a letter, since I have about 4 minutes left to print and send everything.
I love you all dearly. Have a great week. The Gospel is True. Tell people to write, letters are not overrated.
Elder La Follette

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Aug ? 2010 (day was torn off)

(received via snail mail 8 Aug 2010)

Family,

I am allowed one letter today to let you know I've arrived safely and started working.

My companion's name is Elder Zarate, from upstate New York. I've seen Ryan a few times as well as other friends from THS and Utah. My district and zone are wonderful. The Spirit is strong here.

I am scheduled to leave on August 24. I will email more thoroughly on P-Day (Mondays), so you will hear from me again soon.

Send food! I love you all

-Elder La Follette

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Pictures of MTC Day

Jon stepping off the porch and seeing his childhood home for the last time before it is sold. Jon and Camille wrote this in the concrete when they were very little.


Jonathan's father, Rodney
Deciding what to order!



Jonathan's sister, Camille

Cousin David
Jonathan's mother, Tammy









A very full Jon
A mother doing her duty- cleaning up Jon's spill! Jon is embarrassed.

On the way out of Missionary Mall for a couple last minute things, Jon and Tammy walked by this sign for a store, so they took a picture!

Unloading luggage

"Make your best cry faces! 1... 2... 3... Cheese!"



Elder LaFollette



A final farewell to his mother

video

"Well, see you in two years!" Jonathan crossing the street to the Missionary Training Center.

Elder Jonathan Leroy LaFollette

Jonathan reported to the Missionary Training Center in Provo, UT at approximately 1:00 p.m. on August 4, 2010.

This blog is being maintained by his family to document Jonathan's experiences, thoughts, and pictures from his mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to the people in the California Carlsbad Mission.

Talk

This is Jonathan's pre-mission talk given in the Sacrament Meeting of the Sherwood Hills Ward, Edgemont North Stake on July 25, 2010.


Greeting

As many of you know, I have been called to serve as a missionary in the California Carlsbad Mission, speaking English. In case you’ve been wondering, I didn’t bribe anyone to call me to a place like that. For those who have been asking, no, I won’t be visiting the Carlsbad Caverns. Those are in New Mexico. I don’t actually enter the MTC until August 4th, so when you see me at church next week, don’t be alarmed, I’m still going on a mission.

I’d like to thank you all for supporting me as I prepare to go out into the mission field. This is a truly amazing ward. From the time I was in primary up until now, I have had outstanding teachers and priesthood leaders, and to each one of them, I would like to say thank you so much, they know who they are.

I have been fortunate to be surrounded by an amazing group of friends throughout my life. We’ve had a lot of fun, but most importantly, they always support me in whatever I may do, and make sure to set me straight when I’m doing something dumb.

Most of all, I’ve been blessed to have a family like the one I have. Immediate family as well as extended family have been there all the time. My aunt and grandparents demanded that they buy something to help me get ready for my mission.

My brothers and sisters are always around to give me support and advice for my upcoming mission. My sister Camille has appointed herself my Missionary Police. “Are you reading your scriptures every day? You should go on splits. Are you riding your bike everyday? Are you getting up at 6:30 every morning? Is your hair in a part? You need to have your hair in a part.” It’s been good to have someone to keep me in line!

My parents most of all have been there all the time. They have supported me every step of the way, through the bad times, and the okay times, and the great times. And I know they will continue to support me in every way they can.

(3:30)

Brothers and sisters, we live in a pretty rotten world. Evil abounds in this world. Satan attacks us as every turn. It is our job to resist those abundant temptations.

Satan was with us in Heaven before we came to this earth. He knows each and every one of us; he knows our strengths as well as our weaknesses. Unlike us, who are now here on this earth with bodies, he did not go through the Veil which made us forget our pre-earth life. He knows exactly where to target us.

President James E. Faust taught that “We need not become paralyzed with fear of Satan’s power. He can have no power over us unless we permit it. He is really a coward, and if we stand firm, he will retreat. The Apostle James counseled: “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” And Nephi states that “he hath no power over the hearts” of people who are righteous.

We have heard comedians and others justify or explain their misdeeds by saying, “The devil made me do it.” Certainly he can tempt and he can deceive, but he has no authority over us which we do not give him.
The power to resist Satan may be stronger than we realize. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught: “All beings who have bodies have power over those who have not. The devil has no power over us only as we permit him. The moment we revolt at anything which comes from God, the devil takes power.” He also stated, “Wicked spirits have their bounds, limits, and laws by which they are governed.” So Satan and his angels are not all-powerful.”

So how do we build up our ability to resist these temptations? One way is by listening to the Holy Ghost and its quiet promptings.

President Faust continues “Satan has had great success with this gullible generation. As a consequence, literally hosts of people have been victimized by him and his angels. There is, however, an ample shield against the power of Lucifer and his hosts. This protection lies in the spirit of discernment through the gift of the Holy Ghost. This gift comes undeviatingly by personal revelation to those who strive to obey the commandments of the Lord and to follow the counsel of the living prophets.
This personal revelation will surely come to all whose eyes are single to the glory of God, for it is promised that their bodies will be “filled with light, and there shall be no darkness” in them. Satan’s efforts can be thwarted by all who come unto Christ by obedience to the covenants and ordinances of the gospel. The humble followers of the divine Master need not be deceived by the devil. Satan does not sustain and uplift and bless. He leaves those he has grasped in shame and misery.”

2 Nephi 9: 28-29

From my own experience, the Holy Ghost is your best friend in a rough situation. Your mind may be clouded and distracted by stress, the heat of the moment, or fatigue. When you are feeling pressured and tempted to do something you might not want to, have the discipline to stop for a minute. Wait for the Holy Ghost to prompt you. Often times, he will tell you to get out of the situation. If you can’t feel the Holy Ghost, you know to get yourself out of there. All you need to do is stop and think twice about things you’re going to do.

Proverbs 3:5–6
Something I do, is I try to ask myself, “Will I regret this after I do it?” If the answer is yes, or even a maybe, it’s time to do something else.
Do something else. Satan selects his disciples when they are idle and bored; Jesus selected his when they were busy at their work either mending their nets or casting them into the sea. This alone shows us that we need to stay productive at all times. When we are idle, our thoughts wander. Bad thoughts lead to bad actions. Bad actions lead to sorrow and regret.

(8:50)

As we read in the Book of Mormon, being a Nephite wasn’t easy. The Lamanites attacked over, and over, and over. But for a great part of their nearly 1,000-year history the Nephites resisted. The Nephites were obviously committed. Why didn’t the Lord take the Lamanites away?
There were many reasons. But the bottom line is, life is a test. We are here to prove we will choose the Lord no matter what.
Boyd K. Packer helps us remember the following:
First, God doesn’t tempt us; Satan does.
Second, God allows Satan to tempt us as part of the test. But He limits Satan.
1 Cor. 10:13.
Third, being tempted isn’t a sin. We sin if we give in to temptation.
Fourth, if we fail, it was our own decision. If the temptation seemed too great, it’s usually because we didn’t resist when we had the opportunity. We are often our worst enemies by putting ourselves in a position to fail. Even after Captain Moroni had prepared the Nephites with better armor and city walls, anyone who wandered outside was an easy target.
For example, if immoral thoughts are a temptation, are you avoiding the shows, music, Web sites, and other things that trigger them? Or are you outside the walls, just to see if any Lamanites are around? True commitment to keeping the commandments means we try to live as far from temptation as possible.

Fifth, as we resist current temptations, we gain strength to resist future temptations.
Finally, if you give in to temptation, which we all do sometimes, you can turn back to God through repentance. Resisting temptation is more than fleeing sin; it is pursuing righteousness with all your heart.
We need to show God that even after resisting 1,000 times, we will choose Him the 1,001st time too.


I’d like to end with an analogy I like to think of.
Imagine yourself in a military somewhere. You’re trying to shoot down some walls that fortify your enemies. If their wall is poorly built and maintained, maybe made out of cardboard, held up by toothpicks, it can easily be brought down by a BB gun.

If it is a little stronger than that, you might need to bring in a rifle.

If the enemy has maintained their wall a little better than that, a BB gun and a rifle won’t work, but maybe some hand grenades will, or some cannon balls.

Satan tries to destroy our protective walls. Satan will never give up on us. He’s gonna bring in howitzers, tanks, or missiles—anything to break down our wall. Let’s be smart and reinforce our walls to incredible strength. If he does end up damaging our wall, let us be quick to repent and repair our wall. If we do not, he will send more attacks where our wall is weak, and if we are not careful, bit by bit he will tear us down, and overtake us.

2 Nephi 28: 20-26

Ephesians 6:10-18

Build up your wall with the strength of Christ, and you will not fall captive to Satan.

Bear short testimony