Hello again family!
I always struggle to know where to start off at on my letters...
So the weather up here has been really good! Has not been lower than 15 degress which has been so nice. We are getting 5 extra minutes of sun every day. Its funny, I never realized how much I loved the sun till I saw it shining way brightly when walking out of church on Sunday. "Oh my gosh the sun is out! Can you believe it!!?? Elder I am so excited!!!! It looks so beautiful!!" I was so excited to see the sun shining that I started to run around in excitement and slipped on a patch of ice. You would have loved it, my legs literally flew straight out from under me and I was literally parallel to the ground for a few seconds and fell right on my back! A few members saw and I just told them "I've only been out here for 2 weeks, I'm still gettin used to this new world".
I read Josh Olsen's response, that made me so happy to read that! Give him my regards if you could! The area that I am currently serving in is Chester Valley. It is pretty much the ghetto of Anchorage (as I am sure you saw from the apartment pictures). Really poor in my area, you meet all sorts of different people. It is an incredibly hard area to have success in, and it is very discouraging. You have to know when to go tracting, when people aren't home they are working, when they are home, they are too tired/grouchy to talk to. The sun starts to go down around 5 and it is night at 6. You cannot go tracting after 8 because people simply won't answer their doors. Indeed, this is really hard, I always heard how it was going to be so it is not that big of a shocker to me, but actually experiencing it? Wow!! I do get discouraged because our numbers are rock bottom, we cannot find any people up here and when we think we do, they just brush us off or cuss us out, all we do is just say "ok, have a wonderful day! :)" and leave hahahaha, I love doing that.
My companion and I gave talks on Sunday on "Missionary Work". It was funny tho, because there were 2 speakers ahead of us, one of them was a youth speaker who had no idea that she was giving a talk until she saw her name on the program and Sister Smith, who is the relief society president, talked for almost a half hour leaving my companion and I with less than 5 mins for each of us to talk. I guess that is something I have to get used to tho, adapting to new situations! Oh and they also got my name wrong on the program, they had Elder Unsworth's last companions name "Elder Vang" instead of mine, that was pretty weird. When I got up to give my talk I told the ward "so for those who do not know, I am Elder Hartman-not Elder Vang-I am sorry if you liked Elder Vang more and that you are stuck with me now" I got a few giggles, kinda wish Easton was there so he would laugh way loud even tho he wouldn't have known what he was laughing at :).
I got your package a few days ago Summer! Thank you soooooooooo much for that!!! The cookies were to die for!!!!! Elder Unsworth said "dang these cookies are good!" and I said "dang right they are!!!" we loved them! I wrote a letter to you the day I got it so you should be getting a letter fairly soon. You will like what is on the envelope of it, you will probably think it is from a girl when you first see it ;)
Thank you for sending me the package with all my clothes mom and dad, I do not believe that I thanked you for it. The jacket is amazing!! It is starting to warm up now so I am not using it that much, but when it is cold outside, it saves my life!!!
I got a letter from Trevor and Aaron a few days ago! That made me ever so happy! They were asking how everything was and how the mission is going. That is crazy about Aaron's call! My teacher in the MTC went to that mission. He said it gets up to 130 down their sometimes hahaha. He also said that is where they filmed one of the old Star Wars movies to so sometimes Elder's would see storm troopers walking around while they were tracting.
I can't believe Carol cries when she says my name! That made me feel loved but also sad :'( let her know that I miss her and if you can get her e-mail for me to! Or give her mine, which ever works.
As I was writing in my journal the other day, I was reflecting on the night I got set apart. It was awesome when everyone in the room was saying something about a mission and what a difference it makes in your life. I didn't tell anyone this when it happened but after I said my part about my mission, I felt someone behind me with their hands on my shoulders. It was something I have never felt before in my life, it was amazing! Whoever was behind me, I knew that they were letting me know that no matter what, they were always going to be there for me. It felt like they were telling me, "this is going to be the hardest 2 years of your life, but I am here for you and always will be". It was truly amazing, I cannot really describe it as well as I would like. Never before in my life have I ever worked this hard mentally, physically, and spiritually. When we come home at night, we are, or at least I am, exhausted! I am as tired as can be! I thought going to bed at 10:30 would be hard, not at all! I could go to bed at 9! hahahaha. But I do truly love it out here tho. I cannot wait for the Summer to come around because that is when everyone is outside and you walk around a lot more. That is what I want to do, is walk around outside, I hate riding in cars, I still feel like I am inside.
A member on Sunday asked, "how do you really know when you are getting an answer to your prayers? How do you know when it is the spirit or just your conscience talking?" David A. Bednaar gave a talk at the MTC on this exact topic and his answer was "quit worrying about it". I was surprised to hear this bold statement from a General authority, but it made perfect sense. Sometimes we do get answers, but we do not always recognize them. If there is one thing that I have learned tho, it is that, God always answers your prayers if you do your part. It may not be the answer you necessarily want, but it is the BEST answer for you! God knows each and everyone of us perfectly. He literally showers us in blessings, he gives us more than we can hold and he wants to give more! If there is one thing that I wish I did more in my life, I wish I thanked Havenly Father more for everything that he has given me. He has given me the most amazing friends in the world who have only built me up. He has given me a wonderful home. I could go on and on about things that he has given me, but the thing I am most grateful for is the wonderful family he has blessed me with. I was telling my companion about all of you the other day. I love talking about my family. My companion has been out for 20 months so his time is almost up. "When you go home, you should say hi to my parents" I said. (If you have not left for africa yet). "I dunno, you think that would be weird at all?" "are you kidding me!?!? You ask my dad one question, and you have an hour long conversation right there easily! My mom will feed you and take care of you while you are at my house!" I told him about all of my sisters how one is an amazing cook-Summer, another one is just fun loving and so happy-Mikelle and another one is just a force to be reconed with but totally awesome-Terra and another is so incredibly nice and amazing at yoga-I'll let you figure that one out ;).
I love you all so much! I hope you are having fun at home! Oh and the question about my jeep, I would prefer you to store it and not sell it if that is an option. Just have Summer and Trav keep driving it, I am sure they won't mind ;). Take Care family!!! I love you all! Oh and if you could keep me updated on how the Jazz are doing, that would be nice to thanks!