Thursday, December 04, 2014

10 month update

December marks the 10th month that "The Big Iggy" has been a missionary for the LDS church.  A few weeks ago, my parents got a letter from the mission president informing us that Elder Petersen was going to be a trainer.  Then we got a letter from Willie telling us that he was going to be a trainer, but that his trainee was held up in Utah with some knee problems/surgery and there was no way of telling when he would actually arrive.

For months now, he's been part of a trio, instead of a companionship.  He told me that even though he wasn't the senior companion, that it often felt like he was in the video game Animal Crossing, with those other two elders just following him around wherever he went.

But, he isn't part of a trio anymore.  In fact, my dad got an e-mail last week telling us that our Elder was getting a new assignment and that he would now be a district leader.  Then, our Monday e-mail told us that yes, Willie is a district leader in 1) a new town and 2) his new companion is Elder Norman - his companion from the MTC who, to put it nicely, tried his patience.  I could feel my nervous mervous brother sweating it out in his e-mail but hopefully, he's relaxed a little in the last few days and he can go about the business of being the missionary in charge.

Willie is now in his third city, Klaipeda, Lithuania.  It's a coastal city, right on the Baltic Sea and he said that so far, its very pretty.  But Lithuania right now especially is very cold.  I check the weather weekly and this week the high was supposed to be 25 in the country's capital.  I'm not sure whether the sea makes it warmer or colder, but I'm guessing colder.  He also said that the people are very friendly and there is actually a young man in the branch preparing to serve a mission - which is very cool.

I know that as a family, we so look forward to an e-mail in our inbox every single Monday from our Elder.  There have been a couple weeks where his e-mails have been "late" and we all frantically text each other wondering whether we were left off the list, or if something happened to him.  That something, generally, has been that he's busy.  Duh on us!

The rules have loosened a little and Willie can now send us pictures of actual Lithuanian members, and of his companions.  He's broken the rules a few times to send us, what I guess would be contraband pictures, but it's nice to know that he can do it legally and that we get to see a little more of where he is at and what he is doing and put names to faces of some of the favorite people he is teaching like Birute, his Lithuanian Grandma.

We get the opportunity to Skype with Willie on Christmas day.  I am so excited.  My boys are so excited.  My mother (and I assume my dad) is beyond excited.  It's like the biggest thing ever in our lives and we are all counting down the days.  Quinn talks to Willie every day on his plastic nemo phone.  He also talks to "Unka We-eeee" through pictures, generally carrying around a photograph or magnet with his image on it at least once a day.  I really hope that he doesn't pull his crazy bashful self when we see Willie on video and that he will actually talk to him.  If we tell Willie ahead of time to ask Quinn about the bison at the zoo, I'm sure he can zone in and talk (FYI - the bison are no longer at the zoo.  They are on a farm.  Quinn will be more than happy to tell you that whenever you ask).

I miss my brother very much, but I know he is doing an important work, touching the lives of people who need a little love from a very tall and skinny albino boy from Utah.  I heard in a talk at a missionary farewell at church this past Sunday, that if you apply the law of tithing to your life, for a young man, taking two years out of his life when he's 19-21 is the same as paying a 10% tithe to the Lord.  I thought that was a neat way to interpret a mission.  We've got Willie with us forever.  The people of Lithuania just get him for two years.  I guess that's why missionaries (especially my brother) work so hard.  They've got a lifetime of work to do helping other people in a fraction of time.

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