Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Weeks #52 and #53

Gran noticias! Visita del Elder Oaks y... soy viejo.
Great news! Visit from Elder Oaks and...  I'm old.

Quite a big week, as I briefly told you all it would be in my last letter.

First we had interchanges with our district leader, but this time I went with his companion to Loma Florida (not anything like the state of Florida).

The following day (Thursday), I had to make a trip to Puebla and the mission offices, for the grand moment of renewing your visa.. Because it expires after one year! That is right.. Soy viejo.. And here we are in the last week of the change already. It is just crazy how fast time flies when you are a dedicated missionary of the Lord.

Finally, the best moment of the week was the special conference with Elder Oaks. But he wasn't the only one. We were also in the presence of Elder Clayton, Elder Valenzuela, and Elder Walker, and their wives too. It was awesome! Everyone passed to share a quick message, about obedience, working with members, exercising faith, and ultimately how to become greater Christ-like teachers.

It was also fun to be reunited as the whole mission for the first time since... August? Wow! So it was super duper fun.

I have to say the opportunity to hear from one of the Lord's very own Apostles was one of the greatest encouraging moments that I have had while here in the mission. And now, I need to make sure that I use every second wisely, because it is a very short time..

Thanks for all the support, and love you all.

Here are some pictures I snagged off the mission's Facebook page.

Can you find Landon?

 Can you still find Landon (enlarge photo by clicking on it).

Now you can see Landon!

*** Step Stats *** 
Monday, February 15 - 25261
Tuesday, February 16 - 26308
Wednesday, February 17 - 21022
Thursday, February 18 - 14793
Friday, February 19 - 23202
Saturday, February 20 - 21699
Sunday, February 21 - 9072

Cooper is still in the #1 spot ... no surprise there, as he hasn't slowed down at all. But the #4 spot? It's Grayson making an impressive appearance in Landon's Top10! Keaton is missing, as he recently became the proud owner of an Apple watch. He had been wearing the Fitbit Flex (a wrist version). I did have an old Zip around that we switched him too, and it SHOULD be counting more steps, as he would wear it during basketball games (where he couldn't wear the flex) but alas ... it hasn't been working (which was why it had been just laying around). Although the apple watch counts his steps, it doesn't sync with Fitbit to see how he stands in the step stats. I'm working on a solution (there is a SyncSolver app to route Apple info to Fitbit) but I think I'll be buying him a working Fitbit to get the most accurate step count.

***Between Brothers ***

02142016 #52
Dear Landon, wow, I am the first one writing you AGAIN. So, I went to Cooper's Shakespeare play. It was pretty funny. Oh, and I forgot t tell you about the Super Bowl last week. Really surprisingly, the Broncos won, but, that is not it. They won by 14! Against the Panthers! This week, there was the skills challenge, three point contest, and the dunk contest. In the skills challenge, Karl Anthony Towns, a center rookie (the first pick) won! In the three point contest, Klay Thompson actually won Stephen Curry! [The best shooter on the planet. (Not really)] But, the dunk contest was probably one of the best dunk contests ever in history! Arron Gordon and Zach Lavine both were in the championship and went crazy! Zach Lavine won...... Again. But, Arron Gordon deserved to win though. They were only supposed to do two dunks in the championship but they did three extra! I wish I could describe what the dunks were like but they were undescribable! We're about to go to grandma's, soooooooo bye! Love ya.             ColtBolt

Dear Landon, this week was pretty crappy for me. Not only did I have to do Shakespeare, but I also had to be the lunch worker and miss my lunch recess. I only got to be scraper once, but I wanted to do it more times because we go out earlier, and we do not have to wash tables. I did not mess up in the Shakespeare plays, despite some distractions from the audience (Colton and my friends). The first day was the worst because my leg ended up hurting the rest of the day from being nervous, but watching the Harlem Globetrotters play at Vivent Smart Home kind of made up for that. Tights I really hate, but I have been wanting spandex leggings to wear during winter, and I finally got some, they are so comfortable! All-Star Saturday was absolutely awesome. Karl-Anthony Towns won the Skills challenge against Isiah Thomas in a neck and neck competition. Klay Thompson made every ball on his final money ball rack, beating Stephen Curry. But the Dunk Contest... was seriously the best one in the history of the NBA. Aaron Gordon (Magic) and Zach LaVine (T-Wolves) got into an insane dunking duel. For the first two dunks, they were without a question going into the championship round. There were supposed to be only two dunks each, but they kept tying each other with dunks with 50 scores. There were three extra dunks, but Zach LaVine got his 2nd consecutive slam dunk champion. They were both winners, even Zach LaVine thought there should have been another trophy in the building. The All-Star Game is in a few hours, and to pass time, we are all going to grandma's and grandpa's to have the special breakfast.     Love, Cooper

Dear Landon, I'm not sick anymore! I still have a little bit of a cough, but I'm totes mgotes fine. We haven't really been playing Battlefront much lately because of a really stupid update that came out a few weeks ago. It nerfed (to make worse) everything except for one stupid thing; a lame sniper that nobody used and still doesn't use. Seriously, all of the things that Cal and I used got so much worse. The first time I played after the update, I had to chance my custom entirely, and the weapon that we used (Han Solo's pistol the DL-44) sucks! It used to be awesome. Now, it's trash unless you're Han Solo. The last time I played was maybe a week and half ago, but I tried again today and killed it! We usually play a game mode called Droid Run. It's pretty much Domination from CoD with a few small tweaks. A really good score to get on Droid Run that Cal and I usually get is 10,000 points. That's way good! I held the highest score for us with 12,000 that I got before the update. My first game back today with a whole new custom, I got 14,000! Then, I played another game and went 28-2 and got 21,000!!! I was freaking out that's so good! I pretty much shrekt the other team, but 28 kills in a game isn't a lot. The most kills out of me and Cal is 46 or 48 kills, and I was the one that got it! I don't know how I got 21,000 though because that was insane. Another crazy thing this week was that Dad got me an Apple Watch! He gave me the 38mm black one since I helped out with lot of derbies in the past year. It is just as awesome as I thought too! The notifications come to my wrist, and I can reply right there! On Friday, my first day using it, I barely even touched my phone that day. We got back into Trivia Crack and when I get a notification that it's my turn, I can just play it from my watch! My friends were so jelly and Cal was pretty jelly too. It was a fun week this week not being sick. So yeah... Wuv, Keat

02212016 #53
Dear Landon, this is the 53rd time we have written you! And there is 52 weeks in a whole year! So, halfway done! I did have three games this week. I won one of them, but lost the other two. But, if I count up all my points from all three games, I had 18 points! In the first one,  (this is the one we did win) I got nine points in this game! One of them was a three pointer. In the second game, I got 5 points. In the third I got four points. For Callahan's birthday, we got him a big red velvet cake! He shredded through a couple pieces! Other, that those things, it was a pretty boring week. Plus, it's really late right now and I have to get something done before school tomorrow, sooooooooooo, bye, love ya. Congratulations for one year in Puebla!              ColtBolt

Dear Landon, it has now been a year since you have gone to Puebla. It was a few days ago, but the time is going by way fast. This week is definitely better than last week, but we did have to have a sub for one of those days. Shakespeare is finally over, and since we were doing those plays, we have to make up math, and we had like three math assignments in one day. I got to see my friends McKay and Bridger play in "A Comedy of Errors" a few days ago, and they did really good. I now have 3three pairs of spandex leggings, and they are awesome. They are so much more comfortable than tights, and they are actually made for sports. The main reason I wanted them is that I can wear my shorts over them and still keep warm. It has been sunny these past few days, and it has also been around 50 to 60 degrees! It is so good, I can play basketball, football, soccer, and wall ball. League Pass has been very useful this week. There was a lot of close games this week, (despite the All-Star Break) and they were all really close. There was just barely a close game right now, and I was happy that the Pacers won. Today was Callahan's birthday, but he was at work for half of the day. Mom wanted him to take a break and enjoy his birthday, but he did not really listen. He came back at 5:00, and that is when we had the mashed potatoes, steak, and chicken. They got a red velvet cake for him, and we just barely sang happy birthday to him. Kind of has been a big week, because of Callahan's birthday, and that it has been a year since you've been gone. So I guess I will see you next year!      Love, Cooper

Dear Landon, the district league is over for us since yesterday we lost in the playoffs to Sunset. They were playing way good and we were playing way bad. We only lost by 10-ish though. Out of the five times that we played them, we beat them three times. We're going to do a combined team of the best players from both teams to play in the state tournament. It'll be me, Ty, and James from West Hills and Corbyn, Cameron, Griffin, and Landon from Sunset. We'll also have an eighth grader from Sunset that's way good. Not much to talk about this week. I got a 4.0 on my midterms. So yeah... sorry I couldn't think of a lot of stuff to write about. We had to SuperBowl Sunday dinner today for Callahan's birthday since last week we had the breakfast for dinner with the Westras. Delicious steak! Wuv, Keaton

Callahan SAYS he has written on his own ...

  • Dear Colton: Haha I know! It was pretty awesome to officially hit the one year mark! Feels awesome! Dang three games?! That is a lot of games.. What happened that you lost two of them?! Yikes.. But at least have fun! Thanks Colton.. Even though I am technically in a different state called Tlaxcala.. :p
  • Dear Cooper: Yup! It has officially been one year since I came to Mexico! Pretty crazy right?! Haha that is good that those plays are over and you can get caught up on your other stuff that you have missed. Haha you really like spandex? Now you just need it in bright neon colors, and you could look like a Power Ranger! Ha! Just kidding, wear them if you like them. 
  • Dear Keaton: Aw.. Poopy. Darn Sunset Hills... But that is pretty cool that you too are going to make a super team for state! Hopefully it won't be too dramatic either. I doubt it, you are all boys that just want to play basketball! Keep rocking those 4.0's that is awesome! Yummy, Super Bowl dinner.. :) I will include an awesome picture that Elder Seewer sent me, because he is a super fan of Battlefront and needs to cope that right now he cannot play it. I love the picture!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Week #51 - A Package, Pictures and Suspicious "Steps"

A picture, he sent a picture! 
Aunt Courtney had said they were sending a package, 
I told Landon to be sure and let us all know when it arrived. 
It arrived ;)

Viage a Ixtacamsticlan #2!
(Trip to Ixtacamsticlan #2!)

Wow... quite the week of traveling for us this week. Easily more than 10 hours in combis and buses..  But it was all worth it!

The best thing of the week was our visit to a very far land called Ixtacamsticlan.. Just over a month ago was the first time that I went there to visit an hermana. La Hermana Coral, and her very humble family. It is just her and her three little kids that live out in the middle of nowhere. But I was so excited to visit them again (see pictures from his first visit here).  

First we needed to get up early, to catch the combi at 6:40 in the centro. Then it is 2 and a half hours driving to their home. It was funny when we arrived, because their house is right by the road, and once they hear the combi, they know it was us, because it was the only combi that would pass for another three hours. So they were already outside waiting, and so excited to see us.

At our arrival, we ate first, which was just tortillas and salsa. But the tortillas were actually really delicious! But the salsa was quite spicy..And it wasn't just me that was suffering as the American! No one could take that much heat.

I was really looking forward to this trip. I had felt bad that we hadn't visited her sooner. Just from our visit, they were so happy, even though it was for such a short time. But it just isn't with our visit, but they are always happy! It is a very humbling experience to see this family, and the happiness they have, thanks to the Gospel. 

My favorite part of the visit was when we were leaving. We asked the hermana what was the most important she needed that the ward could help her out with, and she said "just enough money to pay for the trip to church." . . . Out of everything; blankets, water, food, electricity... Just the money to be able to go to church, was most important. That hit me, hard.

I know that going to church is a very important part of our worship to our Heavenly Father. There, we can renew our covenents that we have made with Him, and enjoy those blessings. I love you all, thanks for everything!

*** Step Stats ***
Monday, Feb 1 - 15179
Tuesday, Feb 2 - 18481
Wednesday, Feb 3 - 13310
Thursday, Feb 4 - 22466
Friday, Feb 5 - 16445
Saturday, Feb 6 - 31817 
Sunday, Feb 7 - 15414

Hahaha I think more than half of the steps on Saturday are from the combi ride...because there is no way we could've walked that much, because we were in the combi for a good 5 hours that day!

Sometimes a pedometer does pick up "jiggling" as steps. Landon has hit a 30k day before, but he sure felt it the following day!  Super Cooper is still there in first place, and Callahan is up there too with all his basketball. Although they were their Fitbits during basketball practices, Keaton and Colton don't wear them in their games ...

***Between Brothers***
Dear Landon, this is weird, I'm the first one writing you and it is 8:15 P.M. Anyway, that doesn't matter. Sooooooooo, I had two b-ball games this week. (I technically had one.) On Wednesday, we had a game that we lost 40-21. I got two points and I think I got 3 assists. And on Thursday, we THOUGHT that the game was at 9:00, but when I got there, the game only had two minutes left! So it turned out that half of our games are going to be at 8:00. At school, I get to see Coop in tights! (At his ShakeSpeare play. YYYYEEEEESSSS!!!!) This weekend, I got a bucket and put a plastic orange cone on top, then I went into the snow, made some snowballs, and tried to hit the cone off as many times as I can. I ended up hitting the cone six times from about twenty feet away! That is all I can recall for these 168 hours. Love ya! ColtBolt

Dear Landon, still getting ready for the Shakespeare play, and we are getting ready to perform it next week. I'm happy I only have three lines, and that I am only there for the beginning and end of the play, but Colton's class will come see! I have to wear tights, but I think my costume is pretty cool, but I still do not want to do it at all. I got to play wall ball a lot this week, because it was really warm and there was not a lot of snow on the driveway, so that makes up for horrible Shakespeare. Colton and I have been watching "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," and we just got the third and fourth season a little bit ago. There was something wrong with the Jr. Jazz schedule, so there was no game this week, but we did still have practice. I'm still getting a lot of use out of League Pass and there were a few close games this week I wouldn't have seen if it weren't for it. There was a game winner today by Nikola Vucevic, and Avery Bradley stunned the Cavs with a 3-pointer, and the Jazz are now on a six game winning streak, so the NBA is doing great right now. Super Bowl 50 just ended moments ago, Denver Broncos went against the Carolina Panthers. Bruno Mars, Beyonce, and Coldplay performed at the halftime show and I thought it was really cool, and there were a lot of funny commercials. Denver ended up pulling it off 10-24 getting Peyton Manning his 200th win, and his 2nd ring. We didn't have the special dinner because dad was kind of sick, but mom still made fried chicken and yellow rice, so it was all good. Love, Cooper

Dear Landon, since Friday night, I've been feeling the worst sickness in my life! It hurt so bad. I never puked though. I'd have much rather been throwing up. I was really hot, then really cold, then coughing, then dizzy, then numb, then runny and stuffy nose, then soar throat and phlegm phlegm phlegm phlegm phlegm. It was way uncomfortable. I had to miss two games that I wanted to play. We ended up losing one and winning the other. I couldn't even go to watch because I felt the worst ever! It's a lot better today, but I've still had all of those conditions. It has been the two longest days ever, and I haven't even worn my flex for either of them. I was pretty much up the entire Saturday morning. The Broncos won SuperBowl 50 today. We couldn't have our awesome dinner with steak, chicken, and mashed potatoes though because I think I got Dad sick. So yeah... Wuv, Keaton

  • Dear Colton: Ouch.. That is a rough loss... But I guess you hoped for some more competition when you joined super league huh? Well, the point is to have fun. That is most important! Haha you want to see Cooper in tights? That is a bit weird, don't you think? Funny, but weird. Sounds like you are a little bored to just be throwing snowballs at a cone.. But I have done silly stuff like that too. So don't worry about it! ;)
  • Dear Cooper: I guess I never asked.. But were you forced to do the play? Or did you volunteer? I remember being in a play once.. Nor did I enjoy it. Hahahahaha I love me some Fresh Prince of Bel-Air! Will Smith is one of my favorite actors. Wow, really? Are you talking about the correct team? The Jazz are on a 6 game winning streak?! I would hope that they have a slot in the Playoffs then, right? I did hear who won from one of the other elders today in the morning.. Didn't sound all that exciting of a game.. But you can always enjoy the halftime show and the commercials! No special dinner!? Yikes.. then it really wasn't Super Bowl Sunday.. Oh well.
  • Dear Keaton: Yikes.. That does not sound very fun at all. Hahaha but did you play a lot of Battlefront? But that is good that your are feeling better! Get back active!

***Westra Writing ***
Note to our three missionary grandchildren: Some weeks ago, when we were watching our usual Jeopardy show, one of the contestants was an Eric Westra from Omaha. I know there are a number of Westras in the Midwest, and have traced their immigration. So Janika (aka Sister Westra), whenever you are in a different city, always look in the current city phone book and see if there are any Westras listed. If so, and if they are in your area, you could contact them and say that your grandpa has information on their Dutch pedigree. It they are interested, you could get them signed on to Family Search and Family Tree. It may be a good tool to make contacts and it could very well lead to investigation of the church.

Now Landon (aka Elder Blackham) and Corin (aka Elder Westra), you will not likely find any Westras in your areas, but you might use the Family History approach to interest some people in the church. If you don't have trained Family History consultants in your area, we could help you research their lines--the Spanish ones would be more difficult than Janika's converts, but we could try.

On my phone shift each Friday morning, I very often get calls from non-members, and some of them ask: Why do you spend so much time and effort and money on Family History? We aren’t supposed to proselyte as support missionaries, but when they ask, we can answer them and explain to them the important work we are doing. This could easily lead to further investigation of the church. When non-members (pre-members) call, they are so very appreciative of what the church offers free to all genealogists.

We love you all.
Love, Dad/Grandpa

  • Thanks Grandpa for the tip!  In my first area, we would actually use the pamphlet for family history while doing street contacts. It was fun. Haven't done it for a while, but I will make it a goal for this next week! Here, everyone appears to be family... Being Hernandez, Sanchez, Gutierrez, Valdez.. Basically whatever last name that ends in "Z".. Haha a bit funny.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Week #50 - Better Week

Vinieron! Sí vinieron!
(They came! They really came!)

Well, first thing to say is that this week was a lot better than last. Last week we really struggled to have lessons with a member present. It isn't that the members aren't willing to accompany us, but every time we were there ready for the lesson with the member, the investigator wasn't there.. A bit frustrating.. But we continued working!

It paid off, because this week we got some. But the best thing that happened was that we gave a tour of the church to two of our investigators, and we put a baptismal date with them! Then, on Sunday they came to church!  That is definitely a challenge that we have had during our time here.. Because we start at 8:00 in the morning for church.. And everyone here are sleepy heads. But, diligence has paid off for this week. So there it is!

Today we played a bit of basketball. Then after, of course we played soccer. I usually dread playing, or just don't play. But today was pretty fun! We had divided up into three teams, and play until someone would score a goal, losers go, winners stay. And my team was pretty good! We lost one time, and then stayed on to dominate until the others gave up. So that was fun. But it was even more fun when we did new teams... USA vs Mexico.. All the gringos against the skilled mexican elders.. That got intense! We played to five goals, I scored 2 of them! What?!?! But we did lose by one.. 4-5.. It was really fun, more fun because I am getting better! Haha we will have to wait until next week for the rematch!

Pictures ...I know, I know.. I am sorry. My camera is just a little big, so I never bring it around with me. And when we are at home, there isn't much to take pictures of...but next week, I promise at least one photo! I shall not fail!

*** Step Stats ***

Monday, January 25 - 12453
Tuesday, January 26 - 19135
Wednesday, January 27 - 21313
Thursday, January 28 - 9885
Friday, January 29 - 18319
Saturday, January 30 - 18527
Sunday, January 31 - 21379

Super Cooper is still at the top of the Fitbit Friends list. 30k a day average! At least I managed to move up the list a little. Aunt Alicia mentioned she'd been taking a lot of walks there in California, and she showed up in Landon's top 10 this week (now just gotta get her to add a profile picture!)

*** From the Brothers ***

Dear Landon, we played Sunset (West Hills' nemesis) on Thursday and yesterday. We won BOTH times! On Thursday, they were winning by 20 at the end of the first quarter. Then, we came back and won by one with my game-winning free throw. It was 42-43. Yesterday, I went 3 for 3 from the 3! We did a lot better this time and a much bigger crowd. We won by 11 and it was a lot funner;) First week of the new semester schedule, and I've already broken a kid's ankles in gym. It was way funny even he laughed. Biology has been really stupid the past few days. I had to write an ESSAY! FOR BIOLOGY? Now, me and a partner have to write a one-page document with four sections on how Mendel's principles are used today. It sucks. In Geography, we're learning the countries of Africa. Since I'm in honors, I also have to do capitals! There's so many! The physical features aren't that hard, and I've already mastered the countries. It'll take a white for me to learn the capitals though. In class, I asked my teacher to play the song "Africa" by Toto. That's pretty much all I've been singing for the past week. It's mine and Ty's new favorite song. Also, "Oh Africa" by Akon, and "This time for Africa" by Shakira we've been singing in class too, but Toto's is better. So yeah... Wuv, Keat

Dear Landon, this week of school was good. On my writing on Utah Compose, I already have a score of 24 on my third paragraph, and I'm planning on doing five. The only thing I am doing that is school related other than writing is math, and all of the other stuff has been practicing for our Shakespeare plays, I'll watch my friend's play this week. We finally got to change seats ever since the end of Christmas break, and we got to choose where we sat. We had a game this Saturday and I went and tied my season-high 10 points. We were dominating in the first quarter, so the scoreboards were turned off. The team scored more in the second half, but that is because our coach didn't want us to steal or block at all, and almost all their points were 3-pointers. I felt sick before and after the game, but I felt a lot more sick after our game. When we came back, I felt so cold that I was shivering. But a few hours after that, I was really hot and had a fever. So Saturday was definitely my worst day of the week. Because it snowed!! Love, Cooper

Dear Landon, so this was certainly a lazy week, even at school. The only thing that I did at school was playing tornado, when I shot my ball, it hit the rim then bounced off and started to roll. So I went to hurry go chase it, I stopped it when it was almost at the three point line, the kid behind me was about to get me out so I chucked up my ball in the air behind me, and surprisingly made it! Then I went on to win the game. (I will probably win 7 out of 10 games because I am the best in my grade.) So I did win one of my two games this week. I won 32-9! I went against a team that had the same coach that Keaton has! I got two points. There was only a minute left in the game, and I didn't have any points, then I got fouled... Made both of the free throws, so yeah. In the second game, I got 7 points, and I think 2 assists. Although I don't remember the score. I should really start doing that. Anyway, so Sunday is my lazy (playing the computer) day, so see ya! ColtBolt