Monday, January 31, 2011

Quit Worrying About It

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!
Elder Hartman
(Sexy Beast)

Monday, January 24, 2011

News from Alaska!

I am so sorry that I did not call from the airport, but to be honest, I did not really want to cuz that would have been a little weird cuz I have only been gone about 3 weeks, and I did not have that much time to call you cuz we flew to Washington and ate lunch then went to Anchorage and we left for the airport at 4 in the morning and got there at 6. our flight left around 7:20 if I recall right so even if I would have called, I do not think anyone would have really been mentally awake but its ok cuz I will call you on Mothers Day ;).
Gosh where to start!......well my trainer is named Elder Unsworth, he is from West Valley, Utah, so music to the Gunn's ears! ;) basically, we are both the same person. We love the exact same music, literally, which made me so happy to finally relate with someone about something that is very close to me. He comes from a family of 4 brothers and 1 siser. He is the oldest and the first one to serve a mission. He was inactive growing up, but he came back to the church! He is 25 and he has been out for 20 months so I will probably kill him haha! He is awesome tho, he is patient with me and we have the same sense of humor which was also another huge relief for me. The other day he asked me "Elder, what would you do without a wonderful companion like me?" and I replied "celebrate and get another one". He is great tho, I love him and he is a great companion for me.
We arrived in Alaska around 2-3 we met President and Sister Dance. They are so awesome! President Dance, I believe, is a White with Yellow and Sister Dance is a Yellow. Both really fun and loving people. We met the AP's they were way nice and took lots of pics of us as we were getting our luggage from the airport. As we stepped outside, my long anticipation was answered, the weather. It was -15 my first day. We went to the mission home, got to know the mission President and his wife a little better and then went out with an Elder for about an hour. I went with Elder Carlson and we went tracting, in -15. I personally loved it cuz I am getting the Alaskian experience!!!! Yes, it was freezing and my face was numb after 5 minutes of walking around and my feet were hurting way bad. I asked Elder Carlson what was the coldest he has experienced. "60" he replied!!! Ya a little cold, he said that after he took off his gloves, one of his hands started bleeding!!! Yikes!!!!!!! But the weather has been a lot better now, it is staying around 20 degrees now and it is so nice, here in Alaska, that is considered nice weather. I am already getting used to it and all I need when it is around 20-25 is just my suit jacket cuz it is so warm!
In my first week, I have already experienced so much! We are currently teaching the Madina's right now. Oh quick thing, a ton of people move up to Alaska for the army, we went to 6 members homes last week for dinner and 5 of them are here for the army. I had no idea that so many people up here are in the army. Anyways, the Madina's are what we call a "golden investigator" meaning-for those who do not know-that they are the perfect/easiest family to teach. The wife is a member and the husband is not and they came up to my companion, before I came here, and asked if Juan (the dad) could be baptized. Everything we ask them to do, they do! I love this family so much! We were really nervous on sunday tho because they like to go to our ward for church, not their own, cuz they said there were too many distractions at their own ward and they could not feel the spirit. We said we would talk to President Dance, but we already knew that he was gonna say they have to go to their own ward. Well, on sunday, they came up to us and asked if we talked to the President, we told them no, but said that he was going to say to go to their own ward. They looked really upset and we were really worried!! The whole sacrament meeting, Elder Unsworth and I are praying, hoping to know what to tell them to help comfort them. After sacrament ends, they walk up to us and say, "we thought a lot about what you said and we have made a decision" oh by the way we commited Juan to be baptized and he accepted!!!! but we thought that he was going to say he did not want to be baptized anymore. "We will not fight and cause a headache for anyone, we will go to our own ward". Music to our ears! We could believe that! They are truly a wonderful family. Funny story, at the end of sacrament, I was getting my stuff together when I heard Brother Ho say "before we close, we would like to hear from our new missionary Elder Hartman, if you could just come up and bear your testimony for us". That was pretty surprising, but something I better get used to!
We went tracting the other day and that was a little upsetting because most people are not home between 10-5 cuz of work, and if they are, they are really tired cuz the sun goes down at 6 so 7 here feels like 10. A lot of people say that they already have their own religion or they just threaten to let their dogs loose on us, that one made me laugh until I realized they were serious, that was a very akward moment.
Members here loooooooooove to feed missionaries. The average weight gain for a missionary here is 40 lbs!!! I can see why tho, they feed you a ton! Every night, we have dinner with members. We had chili last night, chicken with salad and blackberry and peach pie another night. Small pieces of chicken covered in sun chips another night, which was really interesting but soooo good! Members at the church argue with each other about signing up for dinner with the missionaries, but what can I say, we are kind of a big deal ;) I love it here, this place is so beautiful in the winter and I cannot wait for Summer to come around (not Summer Gunn, as nice as that would be tho ;))
Mail takes a loooooong time to get up here, it takes 3 days to get up here and to send it. I got Terra's package, thank you so much for that! I loved how everything was green in it, got a good laugh out of that. My companion and I have a bubble war the other day, I totally owned him :) my mailing address right now is: 12350 Industry Way, Ste. 218 Anchorage, Alaska 99515
I love the letters, but it is also easier if you just e-mail me, that way I for sure get it, but send letters whenever you want cuz I love those to!!!!! :) :) oh and if anyone could get me Olex's e-mail address and let him know that I want to start e-mailing him that would be wonderful and get Broc's to if at all possible that would be greatly appreciated :)
This is where we sleep.
Our Kitchen
Well I do not think that I could make this message any longer and this is easily the longest e-mail I have ever written hahahaha but I love talking to all of you. It is weird, but the farther away I am from my totally amazing family, the closer I feel I grow to you. I really think about all of you every single day. I have seen some familys who are dysfunctional, like one that has this gothic girl who is married to another woman, but I swear is a guy cuz she has whiskers on her face, she scares me. The daughter of the family has a bad case of ADHD and is always really hyper so it is hard to teach the mom with her running around and the son who just plays video games and watching tv all day, but I can relate to that ;) hahaha. I am so grateful for all of you. Everyone of you has been a big influence in my life. You are extremely supportive and I cannot thank you all enough for that!!! Every night I go to bed I always love the thought of families being together forever. It is such a comforting thought and I love thinking about it. Say hi to all of my friends for me and give them my love. Let them all know that I miss them terribly and I think about them all the time! Olex wrote me a letter while I was in the MTC and that made me miss the big guy a ton. Thanks again for everything you have done. I will try to send another email with pictures of me and my companion so you can see some of this wonderful place! Love you all very much!
Elder Hartman
This is right after my first haircut in the MTC.

Friday, January 14, 2011

A Missionary

Just read this and thought it describes a missionary extremely well. We are so excited for TJ as he heads out to Alaska. And if you've served a mission, you will most likely get a bit teary eyed or at least a lump in your throat as you read the last line. We love you TJ! 

"Somewhere between the whirl of the teenage activity and the confinement of rocking chair, we find a strange creature called a missionary. Missionaries come in two varieties- Elders and Sisters- who come in different sizes, weights, and colors- green being the most common.

Converts love them , young girls worship them (the Elder variety), dogs hate them, the law tolerates them, most people ignore them, and heaven protects them.

A missionary is truth with a pocket full of tracts, wisdom with a scant knowledge of the Bible, faith with 69 cents in his pocket and two weeks until dad's next check.

A missionary is a composite. He has an appetite of a horse, the enthusiasm of a fire cracker, the patience of Job, the persistence of the fuller brush man, and the courage of a lion tamer.

He likes letters from home, invitations to Sunday dinner, conferences, checks, testimony meetings, companions, baptisms, and visits from the Mission President.

He isn't much on tracting in the rain, people who slam doors, helmets, apartment houses, transfers, shaking hands at arm's length, alarm clocks, and, last but not least, letters that start with "Dear John."
Nobody rises so early or is so tired by 10:30 p.m. Nobody else can knock so boldly with such a shaky hand. Nobody else can get a thrill at the end of a disappointing day, when someone says, "Won't you come in, we've been waiting for you!"

Yes, a missionary is a queer character. He can get homesick, and temporarily lose faith in the human race, but a strange lump rises in his throat the day he receives his letter of release and, upon arrival home, his homecoming talk will probably contain the phrase once considered trite,
"It was the best two years of my life.""

Last Letter from the MTC

Hello again family!!! How I love you :)
Just fyi, I forgot my notes to answer some of the questions you asked throughout the letters you sent me so I prolly won't answer the majority of them, sorry :'(
So I just feel totally legit the last little while from all of the packages I have been getting and all of the letters. I feel so kool showing off all of the letters I have been getting and I absoloutely love the support so thank you so much!!!
I do not know if I told you already, if I did sorry for repeating myself, but my companion and I were called to be Zone Leaders the week we got here on Saturday! We got to greet the new missionaries each week and it was fun to give them our wisdom. I cannot believe that I was once in that spot, this whole MTC experience has FLOWN by! It literally seems like just yesterday that we got here!!! I am so ready to get out to Alaska tho, I cannot wait! I hate being all cooped up in the MTC and having all of these rules on P-Day, we just barely spent the last hour throwing bouncy balls down the hallway and making forts in our rooms out of blankets and chairs, I was very entertained the whole time :)
For my iPod mom, all of my songs are on my laptop I'm pretty sure. Before you erase all of my songs, make all the music on my iPod a playlist on my comp so I can just put all of my old songs back on when I get back. Some songs I want, Do What is Right by Lex De Azavedo, all of the Lord of the Rings songs cuz those are just amazing. If you can find any Jon Schmidt or if your willing to buy some songs, I absoloutely love him and I do not believe I have any of his songs on my laptop. There is a song by Enya, its called like Scotlands bagpipes or somethin like that, put that on and then put "Silver Leaves" on there as well. You should prolly have Matt or someone help you so you do not mess anything up ;) and I am sorry that I have not mentioned anything about you and dad goin or Africa, but I do not really have a lot of time to write and answer EVERYONES questions so be patient, it is a Christlike attribute anyways :)
I will try to send my memory card from my camera in a letter home soon, but I am so busy throughout the day that it is very hard to find time to write a letter at once. When I do manage to send the pictures back, don't judge on some of the first few cuz that was us at our New Years little party.
It is true what they say about the MTC and I am pretty sure the mission itself, the days feel like weeks and the weeks feel like days. At first I did not believe that, but now I am fully converted to that quote haha. These few weeks have just flown by so incredibly fast, I cannot believe it!!! I am sure that is exactly what my mission is going to be like to.
I am really surprised Stephen remembered me and that I was going to Alaska! If you can, give him my regards, I would write him, but the letter would not get to him for like 3-4 months :/ I heard Trevors farewell is this sunday! and someone elses to but I cannot remember, Carol wrote me a Dear Elder and told me about it. Give Him my regards as well and wish him luck, I will barely miss him when he comes to the MTC.
We went to the Temple this morning. We did initiatorys and a sealing session. I love going to the temple because you can feel the spirit so strong there and it is just so peaceful and calm there, I love it! We ate breakfast there and it was soooooooooo good!!!! I ate until I was too tired to eat anymore cuz the food there is so much better than the food here at the MTC!
I gotta say, laundry here is not fun, if you do not plan on showing up at least 15-20 mins early before your scheduled time, you will not find an open washer for at least 10-15 mins, it is not fun, so crowded! Waking up in the morning is no different, we "rise" (sorry I always thought that was weird, it is like they think we are mummmies or something and they are summoning us from the dead-RISE!!) at 6:30 as you know, but the line for showers is SO long and you usually don't start to shower till 6:45 and class starts at 7 and they do not like it when you are late. My companion wakes up at 6:15, I just shower the night before, I figure it sleeping in for me :)
If you can, get Carols email address for me so I can send her a few emails and find out what Olexs email for his LDS mail will be that would help a lot!
Well family, I cannnot think of that much more to say. I am leaving for Alaska on Monday and I am sooooooo excited! I wanna start on the Lord's work right now! I have seen some Elders who just want to get their mission out of the way and they are not going because they truly want to. They are going for the wrong reasons and with an attitude like that, it is going to be a very long, hard mission. I am extremely nervous at the same time, I hope that my actions will be pleasing to the Lord and I will be obedient and keep the rules. The main thing I am nervous for is difficult companions. That is the #1 thing that I am not looking forward to. My teacher, Brother Gonzalez, whose first name is Roberto (I made it a goal to find out his name before I left :) said that he did not have a single difficult companion his whole mission. I hope that I will be able to say the same thing, but knowing me and my irresistable personality, that prolly won't happen and I am going to have the most difficult companions cuz no one else will be able to deal with them hahahaha.
Know that I love you all more than you know. Every one of you has made a significant difference in my life and I would not be here if it wasn't for you. I write about all of you in my journal every night and say how much I love you and each and every one of my friends. I love you all so much and hope that all of you are doing well. Please give your kids big bear hugs and nice fat kisses for me :) love you all again take care
Elder Hartman

Thursday, January 13, 2011

First Picture!

TJ can't seem to figure out how to send us any pictures but we did
get this one from Brayden's mom of he and Brayden in the MTC.
So good to see him alive and smiling! And I think the super short hair cut looks great!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Letter #2 - January 7, 2011

Hello family!!!!!!!!!
Can I just say how much I love each and everyone of you!?!?! Cuz I really do! I get so much letters and packages from you guys throughout the week and it is so awesome!! My district is always surprised when I get one or two letters cuz I always get so much hahahaha.
Mom, dad & bree: I think I saw a black kindle in my room the day I left, it was on the stone table thing but I do not know if it is there still or if it is dads. I heard about mom slave driving Bree in the basement, that brought back good memories ;) That is so crazy about you guys about going to Africa!! Sorry I didn't really respond to some of your questions last time from the dea elders, I got everyone of them, I just forgot to write down notes so I could answer some of your questions, but send those cuz I like them a lot better :). If you see Stephen or Brad in Africa, tell them I send my best regards and I love them dearly. If you could by any chance send me my iPod and a charger and some small, protable speakers that would be awesome cuz I would love some music! Oh by the way, did you get my letter I sent that was addressed to "little cottonwood ward"? I sent it a few days ago, I think I lost track cuz the days are just flying by here now, I can't believe its almost Saturday already! That is so crazy about Austin and his mission, that is prolly the main reason why I am afraid to go on mine because I am afraid it will fly by too fast, but I guess that is why I gotta enjoy every moment of it and live it to the fullest!. I got my haircut here! It looks like I just came out of the marines cuz it is almost buzzed, I got a picture so when I figure out how to send them thro email or print photos, I will show you :). Carol sent me a package of munchies and circus animal crackers can you believe that! If you could, send me her email in a letter or something so I can thank her cuz I sent her a letter, but I am not sure if it got to her. I love you and hope your doin well!!
Matt & Mikelle: Thank you sooooooooo much for the food you sent!!!! I was running around screaming cuz I was so happy cuz I get so thirsty at night and I saw the gatorade which is my favorite drink! That joke you sent was awesome, keep them up! That quote you wrote down was way kool to! I love quotes so if you got anymore for me, let me know! Give your kids my love for me and see if Berkley will actually smile if you mention my name :)
Summer & Trav: Well Travis I am only in 1 Nephi 15, I don't get much chance to really read the BoM because we are so busy here but that is where I am at. Thanks so much for the rice krispies and the pictures. It was so nice to see some family picture and to have with me to look at. The trip to Disneyland looked like it was a blast. I love the picture of Easton fighting the Jedi, he looks like he is really into it! Tell them all hi for me and I love them tons!!! Keep me updated on Travs progress as he keeps working out, let me know if those pecs get more chizzled ;) give my love to Guss for me (if you can Sum cuz I know you just love him ever so much). I am glad Cali was so fun for you guys! I love you and give your kids a great big hug for me!
Terra & Jer: I already emailed you a little bit ago but I will just include you in this big email to or else I will feel bad and feel unworthy :). I am glad to hear that Cali was a successful vacation! I love how you are sad about coming back to the cold....tell me more ;) hahahaha kidding. Tell your kids hi for me and give them lots of love for me!
We got our itinerary (did I spell that right?) the other day, we have to be at the travel services center at 5 AM!!!!!!!! that means we are priveliged to wake up at 4 AM...but it is ok because our whole disctrict is on the same flight and we are all going to Alaska together. Oh my gosh, dad, if only you could see this one companionship in our district. They are perfect opposites and that is why they are hilarious. Elder Macphearson is a total Red and Elder Curtin is a total white. The white is never rushed and always takes his time and the red is constantly wanting to move. When they argure, I laugh my head off and they don't really know why. The red is like "in companionship inventory tonight you are getting it cuz you have been bugging me!" they love each other tho and they get along just fine, its not hateful arguments, just little loving debates. They are perfect together tho, when they teach, they are amazing. God put us with our companions for a reason. Whether it is a friend who is a good companion, or one in the MTC, or marriage. The big man is always working and he puts the people in your life for a reason! I love you all so much! I pray for each and every single one of you every night. I know that is weird coming from me cuz that is something I would not typically do, but it is the truth. I love you all more than you know and I can't wait to hear more about how your lives are going! Take care. Remember: "The best way to cheer yourself up is to cheer up someone else". Maybe London could use that every now and then ;)


TJ gave his farewell address on December 26, 2010. He did an AMAZING job and spoke from his heart, touching everyone who was there. The chapel was packed all the way to the back of the gym. Kylee Dyer spoke on service while Jared Schmidt, who stayed in town from a family vacation to be present, spoke on preparation. The Young Men sang Called to Serve, asking former missionaries in the congregation to join in on the second verse. Next, TJ shared his thoughts and feelings on leaving to serve the Lord for 2 years. He spoke about how people have "written" on his life and shared his feelings about how those things have made him a better person. The Osterloh girls sung "A Window to His Love" which was beautiful and added so much spirit to the already emotional meeting. Dee Young ended the meeting with a heart felt message on missionary work and the gift that TJ would be to those in Alaska.

TJ was set apart as a full time missionary on December 28, 2010. The blessing was given by President Miles and was very personal, revelatory and promising. A few of things TJ was blessed with were to be a good letter write allowing him to share his experiences with family at home, the gift of discernment that he would feel the direction of the Holy Ghost clearly,  and obedience. It was a very spiritual and emotional evening spent with family in preparation for his entering the MTC the next day!

The Call

TJ opened his call in the company of friends and family. It was so much fun to see him read the
letter telling him where he would be serving for the next two years. We'll never forget the spirit that
was in the room as he read "you have been called to labour in the Alaska, Anchorage Mission".
Not only did the spirit testify to TJ that this was his call, it testified to all of us who were present
that this is exactly where TJ is needed.

Reading His Letter
Proud Parents
Friends and Family
Téa, TJ and Briar