Editor's Note: We did not receive a letter from Elder Latimer this week because we received something BETTER -- a phone call. Missionaries are allowed to call home just two times a year - on Christmas and on Mothers' Day.
Josh arrived in Charleston, West Virginia on December 18, 2012. He met his mission president (President Pitt) who is from Centerville, Utah and, according to Josh, is "awesome." He knew before going that President Pitt was friends with our friends the Nash's in Centerville, so they had something in common. His first assignment is in Ashland Kentucky - a small town on the Ohio River in the Northeast corner of Kentucky. It sounds like it is a mining town, as Josh describes the air quality as horrible and that they are not supposed to eat any fish out of the river. He and his companion (Elder Hudson from Edmonton, Alberta) were transferred in to the area new so they have spent the past week going over the records and figuring out who is being taught and reconnecting to various investigators (people learning about the Church).
He said that the "real" mission field is a lot more fun and interesting than he expected it to be. He had a chance to talk to all his brothers and mom and dad. He is in a "car" area (most of them are) and he and his companion are the only ones in the city although there is another companionship across the river in Ohio. They spent Christmas eating with investigators and members as it was difficult to have formal teaching appointments given the holiday and their newness to the area. He is serving in a ward, albeit a small one (about 100 members or so). People are very friendly. He described one experience his companion had where after a lady told them they were going to hell, she offered them a glass of water!
He got his package from home, which in addition to food, included a "blow up" pillow tie, speakers for his missionary iPod, a back scratcher, a Nerf hoop, and a few other goodies. He gave his mom and dad their best gift this year -- a call from him and a knowledge that he was doing well and doing right.
He was glad to hear the Seahawks are rolling and was even o.k. with the outcome of the UW/Boise State bowl matchup (either way would have been fine with him). Mostly, though he is enjoying his work and is excited to be serving.
Please write when you have time, his new address is:
1541 Prospect Place, #5
Ashland, KY 41101
We are very grateful for his good choices and know that the Lord will bless him for his sacrifice. Merry Christmas to all!
Tuesday, December 25, 2012
My second week went by a lot faster than the first. I couldn't believe it was already Sunday again. I got to bless the sacrament and that was pretty cool. My favorite things are the Sunday devotionals and Tuesday firesides. One reason is because its just cool looking around and seeing thousands of missionaries. The first Sunday when I went to my first devotional they had us sing "Called to Serve," and it was incredible.
The other day we watched a talk given by Elder Bednar in the MTC on Christmas sometime in 2000, and they said the only place anyone can see it is here. It was an amazing talk about the "Character of Christ." I took notes on it, and I filled 8 full-sized pages top to bottom, left to right with notes with no room to spare. I plan on making a copy of my notes and sending them home to you guys so you can read them if you want.
[Ed. Note: The Notes are linked at the bottom of this post]
I can give you the names of the elders in my district that are going to Everett so you can look for them, they all leave dec 18th also. There are a total of 15 leaving to Everett that day, but I dont know them all. You'll have to write me and let me know what new Elders come to our ward,
I leave December 18th on Tuesday morning. I meet at the travel office at 4 a.m., then I can call you guys when we land in Chicago for a layover. Yes, I did get the cookies that you all sent, and they were great! Thanks! My companions also enjoyed some because, as you all know, Im not the biggest person for sweets. But i shouldn't have eaten as many as I did. And the rumor about the orange juice [in the MTC] I think is a lie. Its the food that does it. No one in my district has had any OJ, and we are all struggling.... And i'm not sure if I will have a different P-day (preparation day - ed.) [in West Virginia], but I can e-mail you and let you know. I can also call home on Christmas day.
[Please ask] anyone and everyone to write me. I dont care how well I know them. Letters give me something to do so I can focus on something else for a while and give my mind a break.
One more thing. I dont remember if i already told you but our new thing is to take pictures of each other eating others' food.... When we sit down at the table we wait for some random Elder or Sister to sit next to one of us. When they bow their head and close their eyes to say their prayer, whoever is sitting next to them takes a noticeable sized bite of food from their plate and eats it, and then puts it back before they finish their prayer. Then we wait for their prayer to be over. You should see some of the confused looks week get, and some of the ones that seem pretty angry. But its probably one of the funniest things I've done.
Love you guys,
The MTC is amazing, it's crazy how much I have learned in just 6 days. I can easily say its more than I learned in years of seminary, and I leave to West Virginia on the 18th! Right now im in a trio companionship with Elder Shaffer and Elder Skidmoore. They are from Magna, UT and Beaumont TX. It was crazy to first learn we were the only 3 in my district going to West Virginia, all the others are going to Everett! So I've been giving them some tips about the rain and where not to go. I also told them to avoid big rain coats and umbrellas unless they want to look like tourist, because they told us as missionaries to not look like tourists! I'm wondering how the Elders from Texas, and Arizona will deal with it. So far as a District we are all very close and is only been like 6 days.
[The quote you wrote in your letter] reminded me of a lesson we had on stress the other day. They taught us that if we aren't feeling any stress, we are dead. Stress is what helps us preform at a level we need to and be able to feel the Spirit more easily. For example, if you are not stressed at all you are just relaxed and lazy not really trying to get anything done, which will make us not try to accomplish things we should. But if we are way too stressed out we need to find a way to balance it out, or we will be to focused on the stress to even get anything else done. We will be too caught up in ourselves and the world to feel the Spirit. So we need to find that perfect level of stress where it makes us work hard and be able to focus on the important things. Stress is what makes us stronger, without it we would never get anything done.
I can't believe how much I'm learning. It is pretty insane. Well, just letting you know I'm doing great and time is flying by. It feels like you dropped me off yesterday. 2 weeks until I leave for West Virginia!
Sunday, December 16, 2012
Welcome to Elder Joshua Latimer's mission blog. Over the next two years, we will be using this site to update friends, family, and other interested persons on Josh's service as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in West Virginia, Charleston mission. Generally, we will post letters from Josh as we receive them (with selective editing to remove any personal references or other sensitive information). We hope you will enjoy reading about this service. Please let us know of any feedback!