Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Updated MTC mail information:

I know Matthew will only be in the MTC for another week, but we finally have a box number and a mission code if you plan on using dearelder.com or shipping a package, they require it.

Elder Matthew Boren
MTC Mailbox #187
OH-CLE 0925
2005 N. 900 E
Provo, UT  84604-1793

I think he is feeling well-loved and supported.  Thank you to everybody who has been writing and helping him feel supported from home.

September 18, 2012

Hey guys,
HOW IS EVERYONE DOING??? I loved all of your letters and the packages I got! It's so awesome to get those reminders of home. Thanks for rooting for me!
Things are AWESOME here! I'm learning more about the gospel than I ever have, and I've made a lot of great friends. Elder Johnston says hi. Unfortunately, it appears that I can't upload pictures on these MTC computers, so you'll just have to wait until I get to Ohio. :-)
Time is flying by WAAAAY too quickly here. I feel like I just got here, and I'm already mentoring "newbies" on how to teach their investigators. Me and Johnston have made a lot of great progress with a couple of investigators (two non-members committed to baptism). There's still one guy (Alexandre Paul, a Haitian ambassador) who we're reeeally not getting through to, which is frustrating of course. He says he like the Bible because of the way it makes him feel, not because he believes it's true. He asks a lot of irrelevant questions that I feel like I can KIND of answer, and then we get off track, and nothing of eternal importance is said. We're still learning, but the time draws nigh when I'll be learning...for real!
My departure is set for the 25th, which is next Tuesday (at 5:00 in the morning. =-P) We've already seen two sets of missionaries off, and it's starting to get real. I feel ready to get out there and teach by the Spirit! I've gotten much better at slowing down and listening, which is a key part of feeling the Spirit and understanding what the investigator needs. I'm feeling good!
Thanks for all your love and support!
Love, Elder Matt Boren

Friday, September 14, 2012

Tender Mercies

Yesterday I received a post on Facebook from a friend of ours.  It was posted by Elena Tillman whose husband was in the stake presidency when Ted was the stake executive secretary.  We love that family.  They recently were realigned into a new stake and their new stake president is President Gibby.  Elena posted this on my facebook wall last night:

From President Gibby's wife, Lisa- I spent my first day volunteering at the Missionary Training Center today and was taught by Elder Boren, who apparently is in the Saratoga Springs North Stake, and his companion. If any one over there in Harvest Hills knows him, he and his companion did a wonderful job. It may have been a pretend situation but tears came to my eyes as they testified to me of the truthfulness of the gospel and I truly felt the Spirit.

I am sometimes overwhelmed by the kindness of a loving Heavenly Father.  Knowing if he was conveying the Spirit while teaching in those exact situations has been the thing that has been most heavily weighing on Matthew's mind.  I am so grateful that the wife of a Saratoga Springs Stake President ended up being Matthew's investigator yesterday, and that she was kind enough and thoughtful enough and in tune enough to pass along the experience she had being taught by our boy and his companion. 

Heavenly Father is very aware of us.  He is very good.  He is very kind.  He stands so ready to bless.  I'm grateful for such an immediate answer to prayer today.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Abbey's First Letter to Elder Boren

      Hey!!!! How you doin'? Things are too quiet around here without you . I miss being followed around by creepy dolls. I miss hearing you sing random Indy songs around the house. I miss you on the bench at church. The average height of people in our house has signficantly decreased since your departure. I know it's only been a week but it feels like much, much longer than that, and I miss you.
     Okay enough sappiness for one letter. I think it is best to inform you that I met somebody last week. His name is Gustav, and he's Nephi's 40 year old cousin. We met because he got held back several years and is graduating with my class this year. He's so amazing. He wants to work at McDonlads for the rest of his life, and we figure that the income from that, along with my astrophysics job will be able to support us and the children. Oh, but I am getting ahead of myself. He asked me to marry him yesterday, and of course I said yes. I guess your prediction about me getting married before you got back was right.
    It's late at night, can you tell?
                                    Love, Abbey

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

September 12, 2012

Dear Boren Bunch,

I am now District 30-A's most popular missionary thanks to you guys!  I've been sharing the (some) of the candy around ,a nd it's a "soul" saver!  You guys are awesome.

It's hard to believe a week's gone by already.  Since Sunday, the days have flown by here, there's so much to do.  I have five investigators (one atheist, one who believes in God, but doesn't go to any religion, one agnostic skeptic, one less active, and one Southern Baptist).  Two of those are teachers pretending to be investigators, not that that makes them any easier.  The others, we are told may or may not be really looking into the church.  The work is really hard, in an awesome, spiritual way.  We got the atheist to commit to be baptized in two lessons, but we've been to see the agnostic over three times and can't even get him to pray.  We've made great progress with the less active (she's committed to get ready to go to the temple, pray and read scriptures daily, and go to church again).  The Southern Baptist won't let us in the "apartment," and he's really anti-Mormon.

We have class for six hours a day, and then after we finish meeting with our investigators, we just study . . . and study . . . and . . . sutdy!  Never a dull moment!

On Tuesday, Elder Johnston (my companion) and I tried out for an accapella duet part for the MTC Fireside Devotional next week, and we got it!  We're singing a variation of "Nearer My God To Thee" that's really beautiful.  I've got a high-baritone part, and he's taking the tenor meoldy.  It's going to be awesome!

I had a little bit of a scare on Monday.  We have a little less than an hour to play sports or exercise and I always spend it playing basketball.  I kinda twisted my bad knee, but it's fine now (luckily).  I'll be fine.

I loved you guys' letters and drawings.  I'm going to write each of you individually when I have time (so maybe a while :)  Letters are what keep us going, so thanks a ton.

Love you guys, I'll write again soon!

September 11, 2012

We got a letter from Matthew this week.  Sounds like he's doing great.  Things are a little bit tough, but all of those initial adjustments seem to prove a challenge to most of us missionary-types at about this stage.  He has a great attitude and is working through things really well.

Here are some letter highlights:

Hello from the MTC!
I'm not sure if you got my last written letter (sent on Wednesday, I think, last week).  It wasn't very long, but it's P-day today, so I've got thirty minutes to email instead of fifteen minutes to write. 
Things are going okay here.  My companion's name is Elder Johnston.  He's from some small town in Montana, and has been a member for just over two years (he's the only member in his family).  He's got a beautiful tenor voice, and it sounds great when I take baritone in a song with him.  We are preparing an acapella duet for one of the Fireside devotionals, and there's a good chance we'll get it! 
The food is alright.  There is a lot of it, but so far I've been succesful at limiting myself to half a plate of main course, a salad, and a soda (I'm trying to move more towards water, but it's hard.  : ) ) 
The lessons are great. We have class in two three hour blocks, and both of teachers are great speakers who teach well through the Spirit. 
The hardest part for sure is the investigators.  We're given five separate "investigators", who we are told may or may not be real investigators.  It is difficult to balance the needs of the investigator with the lesson planned, and I feel a ton of stress thinking about lessons I've got to teach. 
I know that we must do the best we can do, and the Lord will provide the rest.  Hopefully. 
I miss you guys like crazy.  I got the pictures from the little girls yesterday.  Please tell them that I love them and hung them up on the wall next to my bed, where I can see every night before going to bed. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Missionary Doll

Our sweet friend and neighbor Tomi brought over a special gift the day Matthew left to the MTC.  I wanted to include some pictures of it because we LOVE it and we thought Matthew would get a kick out of it.  Tomi is a gifted artist and designer and she is way too good to our family.  Tomi paints amazing peg dolls and she decorated this one to look just like Matthew.  It is sitting in our kitchen window with our Willow Tree guardian angels to remind us of our missionary boy!

He even has a little Book of Mormon

Saturday, September 8, 2012

September 7, 2012

Yay!  We got our first letter! 

Dear Family,

Hello from the MTC!

Let me tell you a little about this place.  My MTC companion is named Elder Johnston.  He's from a small town in Montana, is very tall from the "middle" and from the ground, and has a beautiful tenor voice.  He's a recent convert, which makes for interesting conversations.  We get along great, and though it's only day 3, I'm sure we'll get along fine.

I just got back from breakfast with Elder Johnston.  The food is decent, and there's lots of it.  I've been very conservative about how much I eat, and I work out for 15 minutes a day to burn calories.  I'm NOT coming home fat!

The room where we stay is a little bigger than the loft back home, with two other Elders living here as well.  We basically just use it to store our things and sleep in, so the smaller quarters don't bother me.

We are being kept quite busy.  The MTC seems big on role-playing; we are teaching an "investigator" today, and will pretend to be investigators ourselves later.  We have a lot of study time, but that's okay, because there is A LOT to study.

I can only e-mail you guys on P-Days, which is Tuesday for me.  If you use Dear Elder.com to e-mail me, I can have a hard copy of your e-mails sent to me.

I'm happy to be here, but I miss you guys already.  I don't have a lot of free time to write to you, but I'll send another letter soon.

Love, Matt

Mission Address Update

We got a letter from the missin office this week.  They asked that we NOT send letters or packages to the mission office.  They asked that we wait to ship our first letters of packages until he contacts us with his address in his first area.  So in case you were planning on having something waiting for him . . . don't. :)

The mission president said he would write us the first Monday he arrives.  We will post his address here as soon as we get it.

Also, we will be making the blog private so that his current address is not publicly available.  If you are family, you will receive an invite to this blog.  If you want to be able to access the blog, you must accept the request.  If you don't receive an invite and you would like one, please e-mail me at boren8@msn.com and I'll add you to the list of allowed readers.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Going to the MTC

On Wednesday morning, it was finally the big day!  We only had to wait two months from call to MTC, but that was a LONG two months.  It's hard to wait once you know your assignments and by Wednesday morning, Matthew was ready to get the show on the road.  We were ready for him to get there also.  We are so excited about the great opportunities and experiences that lie ahead for him.

Matthew decided that he would prefer to say his sibling family goodbyes at home and not at the MTC.  We had a whole bunch of sibling goodbyes that morning.  Some of them kind of tearful.  Some of those tears may have been from dad who was taking the pictures.  I dropped off two sobbing sisters at school--hoping their teachers were going to be understanding of their tears and patient with their sad day.

Faith was the first one out the door and the first one to have to say goodbye that morning.

Matthew . . . probably thinking, "I'm going to miss these guys!"

Matthew probably having second thoughts about missing them

Matthew definitely having second thoughts

Grace was pretty sure that she shouldn't let Matthew out the door.  It's tough to have your big brother go away for so long.

This is where all the kids get their back-to-school pictures.  It seemed only fitting that he stand here for his best off-to-school experience ever.

Ted and Matthew ran some last minute errands and then we took off to head to the MTC, stopping for a few more things and our last lunch together for a while.  For lunch, we pulled into the Village Inn because they had huge signs for pie out front and that looked totally like what we needed.  When we got inside we found out that missionaries entering the MTC get a free meal.  Yay for us!  That was a fun and lucky little break.  We actually ate ourselves kind of silly and didn't have room or time for pie, but maybe when he gets home we'll revisit the restaurant and finally get our pie!

We headed to the MTC, all feeling pretty excited and chipper.  It sounded like there were a few deep breaths coming from the backseat, but mostly everybody was doing great.  Matthew even told me that I was doing much better than he thought I would be.  I WAS!  Yay me!  Then the stoplight turned red right before we pulled into the MTC and we had to stop . . . and wait . . . and watch all the moms hug their missionaries and get their last minute pictures.  Brutal.  All semblance of a stoic exterior was over at that point.

We turned into the MTC and were greeted by two young missionaries.  One of them helped Matthew remove his luggage.  I had the distinct impression that the other missionary's function was to manage me and Ted and get us moving along.  They were nice, but to the point.  Ted and I got one final picture with that great big boy.  I gave him a huge hug and told him, "You are going to . . . "  I actually couldn't get any more words out (there were a lot of tears at that point, I'm not going to lie), so I'm hoping he filled the rest in with the appropriate message (not something like . . . break your leg, or . . .come home next week,  or . . . hate the food).  I was actually going for, "You are going to . . . do GREAT!"  Because he will.  Matthew is so determined when he puts his mind to something and fully commits himself.  I know he is going to fly and be a spectacular missionary. 

Matthew's the guy in the suit rolling away with his luggage. 
Ted and I went immediately from the MTC to the Provo Temple to be close to Matthew for those first few hours and offer our very fervent prayers for his success and well-being. I wouldn't have wanted to be any other place.

We are so incredibly proud of Matthew's willingness to sacrifice two years of his life for this great cause.  I know that he will come away with more than he could ever give, and I am so looking forward to see where this journey takes him!  We really love that boy.  He is loved.  He will be missed.  But we know he is where he belongs and he is ready for this experience. 

Setting Apart

On Tuesday night, we went with Matthew to the stake offices to be set apart.

President Delis first spent some time with the family, talking to all of us about the responsibilities of missionaries and particularly of the responsibility to gain and teach by the Spirit.  He asked JJ to come and help him read some scriptures, which she was proud and happy to do.

He gave Matthew a blessing and set him apart to be a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

After the setting apart, this whole thing we've all been thinking about, preparing for, working for became a reality.  The reality of it hit a lot of us strongly.  There were a lot of tears as siblings (and parents) thought about missing Matthew for a couple of years, but we were also so happy and excited for him to get started.

We really love our stake president and the wisdom and counsel that he has given our family over the years.  He is a great man and we were so happy to have him be there to bless Matthew and help him begin this journey. 

Family Farewell Party

On Labor Day, we went to our favorite gathering place . . . Ted's parents' backyard for one last Boren Bash.  We had a potluck and a barbeque.  It was so much fun to visit and play!

Grandma Reesa talking to the Rue Clan

Matthew sitting with Ted's family

Never a party at Grandma and Grandpa's without trampoline fun--Grace catching some air

The boy cousins enjoying hanging out

Anne and new cousin Josie

Aunt Jessie and new cousin Josie

Matthew and his fan club--Kai, Grace, and JJ

Lyndi clapping for a job well done on the trampoline

Matthew and Mikayla

Mikalya and Abbey

Overview of the fun!

Reesa had researched some really cool things to know about Ohio and Ted's sister, Anne, helped her put some of those fun facts into great activities for the kids.  For instance:
  • Did you know that the first stoplights were used in Ohio?  The kids got to play red light, green light with the older kids playing the game wheelbarrow style.
Abbey is an excellent stoplight

Kai and Grace thought the whole thing was hilarious!

The big kids got in on the action too

JJ and Gavin (and Tanya too)!
  • Did you know that chewing gum was patented in Ohio?  The kids got to have a bubble gum blowing contest.

  • Did you know that Thomas Edison was born in Ohio?  Uncle Justin showed us how electricity works and made a light bulb glow by increasing the salt content of water.

  • Did you know that the Ohio state tree is the buckeye tree which is named for the nuts that look a lot like the eye of a buck?  Aunt Reesa made a traditional Ohio-an treat that looks like a buckeye (a peanut butter ball dipped in chocolate)

  • Did you know that there are a lot of astronauts from Ohio--like John Glenn and Neal Armstrong?  The kids got to shoot off rockets.

  • Did you know that the Wright brothers were born in Ohio?  The kids got to design and fly paper airplanes.

  • Did you know seven US President were from Ohio?  Grandpa taught the kids about some of those important guys.

After the fun Ohio activities, we had a missionary relay race.  The kids ran from one station to the next doing different activities and trying to beat each other to the door.  They put on missionary clothes and road a tricycle to the next station where they had a scripture chase and then ran to shave the shaving cream off a balloon.  They ran to the next station where they got chased by a stuffed dog up to the door to give a door approach.  If their door approach was good they got a prize!  A glow stick with the scripture Matthew 5:16, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven." 

Everybody was glad about their glow stick except for Ben, our little nephew.  He came running up to me with his glow stick and paper and said, "Can you read this to me?"  I was so excited that he was so interested in the message, so I read him the scripture with great feeling and said, "Isn't that great?"  He said, "OK, where do I get my prize?"  I said, "Oh buddy, the really cool glowy stick is your prize."  He looked crestfallen and said, "Oh, I wanted a dog."  That made me laugh . . . a lot.  Anyway, on the whole everybody seemed to have a really good time. :)

The end of the night was hardest when it came time to tell everybody goodbye!

Grandma Reesa and Grandpa Phil

Jessie, Dave, and Corey

Don and Amy

Anne, Josie, and Justin

Matthew and Tanya

Darrell and Sierra

Jeremy and Matthew

Chase, Jill, and Tyler

Matthew had a great time and it was the perfect send off!  Thanks for everybody's help!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Idaho Road Trip

Matthew and I decided that it would be really fun to take a couple of days and head to Idaho right after his farewell.  We both needed one more visit with Grandma and Grandpa Jackson and Grandma Kristie and Grandpa John before taking off.

It was a fun trip.  Matthew put up with 80's music like a true champion.  He was nice to his mama.

Grandma and Grandpa Jackson

Grandpa John and Grandma Kristie

Me and Grandma
We had so much fun with Grandma and Grandpa.  We played fun games, ate great food, went bowling, did some more missionary shopping and mostly just enjoyed visiting and giving a lot of in-person love.  There's not much that can substitute for that.