Monday, December 27, 2010

A VISIT FROM PRESIDENT & SISTER JONES

Mon, 27 Dec 2010
Yeah, I don't have much to talk about either. Everyone we could have expected to come to church this week came! Actually, even some people we didn't expect - it was awesome!

Tonight, President and Sister Jones will be coming out to our apartment to plan with us, and then tomorrow they'll be spending the whole day with us. I look forward to seeing them in teaching situations - that will be cool. We have a lesson set up with Sister Andrews (who has a baptism date for the 7th), and I am confident she and Sister Jones will hit it off.

And yeah, to answer your question, Mom, Elder Lester was at BYU before his mission. So yeah, he was excited to hear I am applying there.

Great, I'll be looking for those oranges this week! Thank you!

Love,
Elder Vogan

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

IT'S GREAT TO BE BACK!!!

2010/12/20
Mom,It's great to be back! I really know even more now than before, when I was sent home and released, how much power is given to us as set apart missionaries. I knew when I was leaving the mission that I wanted to come back, and I knew when I was at home that I wanted to come back, but I needed really understand how much I missed it until I got back. Walking through the airport towards the baggage claim and seeing President and Sister Jones, Elder Cottle and Elder Lyons all waiting for me smiling, I felt so glad and excited to be back. The next thing that happened after I said "Hi" to them, one of the people I taught in Manitowoc stopped me and was really excited to see me. She told me she had moved and so I got her information so that the missionaries could start visiting her again. She was she to update me on her progress with quitting smoking.

I was able to go over to the Du Charme's and eat a late lunch and pick up my stuff. It was great to see them, and I'm glad they were able to tell you where I am now and who I'm with! It's awesome to be back with Elder Lester! He's even more of a powerhouse than he was before. But yeah, so after that I went and spent the rest of the evening teaching with the assistants and we stayed at the mission home. Wednesday was conveniently transfer day. (I thought it wasn't for a couple weeks, but I guess the mission wanted the departing missionaries to be home for Christmas).

So I knew ice would be something to be careful with, and I wore my brace, but I still ended up slipping right before leaving Milwaukee and landing right on my knee... nothing a brace can do about that. The whole church parking lot was frozen over with ice, so it dangerous for anyone, and my weak knee made me even more vulnerable. I was really worried throughout my trip because I was in a lot of pain, and I was having similar symptoms that I had when it was torn. The next day was even worse, at one point, my knee even felt like it was locking up. We stopped by a store, and I got some things to put on my shoes to prevent me from slipping again. Anyway, I was starting to feel like I might be turning around and heading back home again, but after a blessing from Elder Lester, I'm doing much better. I am only telling you this so that you will pray for my knee to be healed without me having to go back home.

The work is going well here! Right now we are living with the Hmong elders, so there are 4 of us in a cozy little apartment. They have like 10 people preparing for baptism, so they are working really well. We have a few people we are working with right now: Andra, Mike, and Gloria. Most of the work has been with less-active members recently though. Andra has a baptism date for the first week in January, and we almost set one with Gloria in an amazingly spiritual lesson we had with her this morning. It was funny, she started the lesson by saying that she "knew" she didn't need anything except the Bible and that she would never be a member of our church, but by the end she was considering baptism and saying, "Aw man, I never saw myself as a Mormon." She's had a lot of problems in her life, but she's also been incredibly blessed with so many gifts and so much faith and sincerity.

I would love some oranges! Merry Christmas! I will plan on calling around 2:00 pm our time.

Love, Elder Vogan

Friday, September 17, 2010

Surgery - The Road to Recovery

Well since I'm home personally typing this entry, it won't take the email format that the past entries have. This is an interesting missionary experience. I'm lying here on my living room couch, recovering from this injury just as I have done several times throughout my accident-prone life. With Mom's encouragement, I decided that I would update my blog during this period where I am laid up and healing, so that I don't lose focus of the goal I have to return to the mission field.

Since being home, I've heard a few different negative statistics about the number of missionaries who return to the mission field after being released for medical purposes, and I am beginning to see how that happens so easily. It's definitely been a shock to my system to change my lifestyle from one having the mantle of an "Elder", living with higher purpose and much higher standards, to being thrown back into the world, released from my calling, feeling as if I have hardly any meaningful purpose while I'm home, and feeling much less of the Spirit in my daily activites.

The way I feel I need to keep from feeling this way is by giving myself a meaningful purpose each day. It's been difficult since the surgery Wednesday to focus on anything for too long, being on all these pain killers.. (I hope this entry is making sense!) But as I create meaningful goals and plans to work on each day, I can feel some satisfaction that comes from improvement, even if it is only small. Mission life was so structured with goals and plans and accountibility. Applying that as much as possible to my "inter-missionary" life will hopefully bring back that feeling of purpose that I miss!

- Taylor

Saturday, September 11, 2010

~MISSION INTERMISSION~

Haha I would LOVE Filibertos, but I'm not sure I'll have the appetite. This "ordeal" definitely has been interesting to say the least. I've been pretty anxious about everything too. Not the surgery as much as going home before I expected to, and not being able to see our investigators progress. I'll definitely be doing all I can to get back out as soon as possible. I talked to a knee surgeon from the ward here, and he told me that the usual recovery time is 3 1/2 to 4 months - so I might still be home for the holidays! But yeah, no one needs to worry about me being in bad shape or in pain or anything. It is a little bit uncomfortable, but I've been walking around on it for more than a month now, and it's been fine. I did just get a really cool brace this morning too to help with stability. I do understand why they are taking these procautions, and I am very comforted that I'll be able to come back out. That was a big worry of mine. I'm not sure whether or not I'll be released as a missionary during that time. The last two missionaries who went home were released, and they are both coming back out. To make sure that I come back out, I'm leaving most of my things at the Du Charme's house, so now I HAVE TO come back.

I do miss you very much, and I am excited to see you! I am excited for all of the reasons everyone said! I told the elders here that I'm coming back out with an 8-pack, so I hope Jordan and Dad hold me to it! It's funny too, I might be keeping in touch with a couple of our investigators over facebook, so I can still teach the gospel while I'm at home.

But yeah, I'll tell you more of the spiratual events of this past week when I see you tomorrow!

Love,

Elder Vogan

Monday, August 30, 2010

MISSION DEPARTMENT TO DECIDE WHAT HAPPENS???

Mon 8/30/10 9:43 AM

So, no emails from you yet, but hopefully I'll see some come in by the time I'm done typing this one! Mom, I have a gift in the mail for you that was given to me from an investigator of ours.. so, be looking out for it. I hope everyone is well and happy at home!

So, first I'll start with the news you're probably wondering about most - about my knee. So, I got the results on Thursday and my meniscus has a pretty bad buckle tear and my ACL is "partial to completely" torn as well. So... I'll need surgery on it sometime. The doctor's recommendation was to have surgery as soon as possible, but he also understood how important the missionary work is to me and gave me another option: to get a sports brace to wear till I finish my mission and then get surgery at home. He said there was possibility of further damage if I did that, but it's not cancer, so if I didn't run, jump, skip or hop, it shouldn't be terrible. He said it would be pointless to do anything with it surgically unless I was fixing all of it at the same time. So, I immediately ordered the brace as soon as I heard that option. But then, when I told President and Sister Jones about it, they said I really didn't have much choice in it, and the mission department would be the ones to decide what happens.. Sorry Mom, I know you told me when I was a kid, "no more injuries". But thank you for your prayers. I'm really calm and comforted about everything, and I'm pretty much pain-free - even while walking on it. I am confident that that comes from the prayers in my behalf.

But yeah, besides that, this week was still crazy! We had our 4-day long training here in Milwaukee Tuesday thru Friday. It went well, but it was exhausting. We had to do this as part of implementing new curriculum in the mission from the MTC, so all the leaders and trainers from the mission were invited. Elder Klc who was in the MTC with me got to stay at our apartment during the nights, so that was cool. We would have our training each day from 9-4 and then afterward we'd go to our areas and do missionary work. Since Elder Klc's area was too far away, he just came and worked in our area. My training on Friday morning went pretty well. I trained for 40 min. on helping others make and keep commitments.

-Just got your emails-

Yeah things are going really well with Elder Turney. He is from Germany. He lived his whole life on a US military base there. His dad works for the Department of Defense "civilian". He is a school teacher there. His mom is from Guam, so he has an interesting heritage that members/non-members love to talk with him about. He actually came out with Elder Radle, and he'll be going home mid-November. It's interesting, there are 4 missionaries in our mission who grew up in Germany, and all four are in our little zone.

That's sad to hear about Meggie's toe! I hope you can figure out what's going on with her soon, so that she doesn't keep hurting herself. I'll definitely be praying for her. It's also interesting to hear about my new ward. I am also glad they changed the name to something more masculine. Congrats to Annie with the new baby! And to Grandma Nan! And good luck to Hannah with her first game!

Not too much to tell you this week about investigators. So, I won't. I love you and I'll talk to you next week! (or before then, if I'm given any new critical information)

Love,

Elder Vogan

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

MRI TODAY--RESULTS ON THURSDAY

Mon 8/23/10 10:09 AM
Hello!
Yeah, I had my MRI this morning, and I'll know more about it on Thursday at my follow up appointment. There is a chance that my ACL was torn too, which would be alot worse if that was true. That would be too long of a recovery to stay out here if that was the case. If I only need to have a scope, that's just a two week recovery, and I don't think I'd be sent home over that. Thank you for your prayers and for putting my name in the temple. I know whatever happens is what's supposed to happen. Right now I am fine though. I can walk around on it without much pain, with just a little limp. So don't worry too much. Oh and it's my left knee, not the right.

That's cool to hear that school is back in session and everything's going well! I look forward to seeing pictures of Dad's deer next week! And way cool about Matthew Gallego's mission call! Do you keep in touch pretty well with people from the Las Sendas ward? Yeah, Elder Turney is my new companion, and things are going well. We are working hard and staying focussed, so that's sweet. Going from Elder Radle to Elder Turney is definitely going from one extreme to another. My new companion describes himself as a micro-manager and somewhat robotic. I feel like I'm pretty much right in between those two. It's good though, we are a lot more prepared for our days and our appointments now. And he keeps me good on my "diet".

This week is going to be pretty nuts. All of the leaders and trainers from our mission will be in Milwaukee from Tuesday thru Friday for a 4-day leadership meeting. It will be pretty intense. I get to teach part of the conference on Friday, so that will be fun. It's good for us to have it here in Milwaukee so that we can still work in our own area in the evenings, and it doesn't get neglected.

The guy I think I mentioned in my email last week who loves the Osmonds came to church yesterday, along with 5 other investigators! Things seem to be really picking up out here. Mike seems to be shady though. We are pretty sure he is getting baptized so that he can marry Marie Osmond. No joke...

I can't think of anything else to write about this week, so I'll talk to you next week!

Love,
Elder Vogan

Sunday, August 22, 2010

KNEE TROUBLE

Mon 8/16/10 10:50 AM
Hello,
Another fun-filled week passes by. We recently found out about transfers and my companion, Elder Radle, will be leaving, and I'll get to train a new zone leader here. I know who it is that is coming, Elder Tourney. Oh, something new, I have an appointment to go to the ortho doctor because I hurt my knee pretty bad. The walk-in doctor I went to on Saturday said I "blew [my] meniscus". I originally hurt it three weeks ago playing basketball with the big group of missionaries, and then I finished it off on Friday night playing soccer - yeah, that was dumb. So, Thursday I will hopefully get an MRI so they can know for sure. It's a little be stressful, but we've been able to still work; and I got a blessing, so I'm doing my best to have faith/patience. It's just a little scary knowing that 2 or 3 missionaries have gone home early in the last 2 months because of knee problems... but that won't be me, I still have work to do. I'll keep you updated on it though.

So, This week we had exchanges every day. Tuesday and Wednesday I was with this really funny missionary named Elder Trusty, and we did a lot of good work. Before the exchange, he said that he and his companion were feeling "burnt out" from tracting. At the end of our exchange, he loved it. He learned how and set goals to be more real when he talks to and invites people to learn about the Gospel. He said our exchange was one of the best times he ever had doing that, and we were able to find a lot of people for those missionaries to teach during that time. We had some time to work in our area too and had a lot of good things happen. We dedicated two houses for different members of a part-member family. They were supposed to be at church yesterday but didn't come. We also met this girl named Tyshema who was way sweet. At first she didn't show too much interest in what we were teaching, but when we asked her if she would like us to teach her more, she said "yes". So we sat down right there with her in her front yard and taught her the whole lesson of the Restoration and committed her to baptism. We found out later in the lesson that she had actually been praying that she could find a book or people to teach her more about Jesus Christ. So, when we introduced the Book of Mormon as "another testament of Jesus Christ", she was excited. She wasn't at church either, so we don't know how solid her baptism date really is yet. Thursday and Friday we went with the Spanish missionaries and I went with Elder Cook from Mesa, AZ. He was actually really good friends with Sam Kerby too, which is crazy. But we also had a great exchange. My spanish got pretty good, and I was able to teach during lessons, and I even said a prayer at the end of our first lesson with a new investigator we found. That was intense. Since Friday night was my knee problem, Saturday alot of my day was spent at the doctor. We did finish the night well though. There was a guy named Mike who randomly called us and wanted to talk to us about setting up his baptism. That was sweet, and so during our lesson with him, we made sure he was willing to change his life to meet the standards that the Lord has set for us to be worthy and happy, and then we set a baptism date with him. Our only concern right now is his obsession with the Osmonds, especially Marie. He has pictures and dolls of Marie Osmond everywhere, and some framed of him hugging her with her autograph. We need to make sure he's not doing this for her. haha

Well, congratulations to Hannah! I can't wait to see some pictures of her playing in the games. And good luck with everything else going on! Have a great week!

Love,
Elder Vogan

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

"MIRACLE WORKING"

Mon 8/09/10 9:19 AM
Another week gone by. I got your card on Saturday with the cute pictures of little Charli and Tucker! That was awesome. I'm Whitney and Kyle are great parents! My mouth started watering when you talked about getting peach melba shakes from Jacob Lake - man, that will be a tough tradition to break. Good luck, Hannah! I will pray for the volleyball tryouts. Crazy that school starts again already, which means summer will be over before we know it. The green Wisconsin summers are nice except for the misquitos and humidity, but I do love the fall season here - all the misquitos die and trees get really colorful. That was fun to hear about Mom's reunion.

Last time I wrote you, our zone was probably at its lowest point ever, but I'm glad to say that things went alot better this week. Hopefully that means that the worst is behind us and it will just be an upward trend from here. It's weird though, at our most recent leadership meeting on Friday, we were talking and the whole mission felt what our zone felt last week - like a dark cloud over the mission. We seem to be coming out of it now. That Friday meeting was definitely the best meeting since President Jones has been here, so hopefully they continue to be great and motivating. After that, attitudes changed and miracles happened.

I had another sweet exchange with Elder Heyte (sp?). I tell him he's a miracle worker because every time we work together awesome things happen. We exchanged right after our leadership training and within the next couple hours we had a great lesson with a part-member/less-active family and we found 2 new really interested potential investigators - Kim and Jake. Jake didn't know that there were any Mormons in Wisconsin, and he had never seen missionaries here before. He had been really curious about our church, mostly because he really likes everything Glenn Beck says about faith and he's LDS. He doesn't claim to be any complete faith. He says he's a 'hybrid' because he was raised Catholic, but he doesn't believe in praying to saints. When we told him where our church was, it blew his mind because its only a few blocks away from his house. He thought our church was a non-denominational church. So, he said he would come to a service, but we didn't see him there yesterday.

Saturday, early afternoon, we were driving toward the area we wanted to see people, and decided to plug in my gps an address for a semi-less-active, part-member lady who I had never been by to visit. Our timing couldn't have been more perfect. Her brother (very prepared for the gospel) and her son (very less-active, but very ready to come back) were downstairs moving and reorganizing a lot of heavy stuff, and they really needed help but they hadn't called anyone. So, we felt good to be there to help, but then as Sister Fisher was getting us water, she told us that our timing was even better than we thought. A few days before she had gotten her eyes dilated and they never returned to normal, and she really wanted a blessing because of that and other things. She had been talking to friends and family members, asking them to pray for her, and she told them that she would be calling "the Elders of the Church, like it says in the Bible that we should do". But we beat her to it, and it overwhelmed her to tears because she knew that God loved her and was aware of her. We were able to teach her brother about what blessings are and then give Sister Fisher a blessing. After finishing our work, we had an awesome spirit-filled lesson in which her brother, Greg, and her son, Joe, committed to come to church. They both came and Joe brought his 5 year-old daughter who loved it! They are going to have us over for more lessons and feed us a BBQ dinner next time!

After that lesson, Heyte said, "The Spirit's thick as mud in there", and we went to our next appointment. On the way, I decided that I really needed to go to the bathroom, so we went to a gas station. When we were about to leave, the people that we were about to see were there getting drinks. They had already moved to a new house, and if we hadn't seen them then, and they had not let us follow them, it would have taken a really long time to find out where they moved. We all gave credit to the Lord for that working out. And now the oldest sister in the family, Khadijah (cool name, huh), has a date to be baptized on the first week of September, and her fiance will probably be baptized with her. They asked us for pass-along cards of the temples and of Jesus to hang in their apartment, and they loved the idea of being sealed together there as a family.

So there's some cool stories I was excited to tell you about this week! Have a great week!

Love,
Elder Vogan

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

MEETINGS WITH PRESIDENT JONES

Mon 8/02/10 9:01 AM
Wow, congrats to Jordan Burr! What a cool mission call! Hope all goes well with Jordan Vogan's wisdom teeth. It went really smooth for me, except that my stomach was sensitive to the codine in my pain medication. It's always cool to hear about little Charli, and I can't wait to get your letter with the pictures of her!

My week was really busy and pretty eventful, but not much to say at the same time. We had two district meetings, interviews, stake presidency MCM with President Jones, and a really long leadership training. All that, along with working with other missionaries, took up most of our time this week, but we still managed to teach several solid lessons in our area too.

Our mission, or at least our zone, seems to be in a rut right now, and that isn't fun. It might be because of the new change with President Jones coming in, and the new focus that he brought with him. It seems like most missionaries are a lot less focussed and missionary work isn't the number 1 priority like it has been to most of missionaries I've worked with throughout my mission. I don't know if our zone has ever reported teaching less lessons and working with less people than we did this week. It was really bad. In our whole zone, only one person that we are working with is preparing for baptism. Elder Radle and I are working to correct this and motivate everyone to work better, especially the district leaders who can pump up their districts in district meeting.
I apologize for my bummer email this week; next week's will be better!

Love you,

Elder Vogan

Monday, July 26, 2010

I'M AN UNCLE!

Mon 7/26/10 9:10 AM
Man, I'm excited! It was great to hear that everything went great, and it was awesome to see the pictures of little Charli! Congrats Whitney and Kyle!

Well, we didn't have to rescue anyone this week, but we were able to help out a lot with water damage and flooding. As you guys heard, there was a huge storm and a lot of flooding in Milwaukee Thursday night. It was intense. A tornado touched down just West of us in Waukesha, and people were abandoning their vehicles because the water was too high to drive. One guy even got his Escalade eaten! A sink hole opened up on one of the roads, and the guy driving got sucked down 20 feet in the ground. The guy was alright. It is cool to see how much the members of the Church step up when people are in need. Probably the biggest areas of disaster were right in our area. As you drive up and down most of the streets that were hit harder, people have all of their carpet and furniture out on the curb to get taken to the dump. It's sad too because alot of those areas were people who couldn't really afford to throw too much stuff out. Everyone seems to have an optimistic attitude about it though. We had a river in the streets by our apartment in Sussex about 2 feet deep or so, but fortunately, our apartment is a lot higher than the street, so there was no damage that we personally had to deal with.

For the work, it was another week of one exchange after another here, so we only taught a few lessons in our own area. Things are going pretty well though with what we are doing. We had a great lesson with Patty and her member neighbors, and hopefully that lesson will help her get past her stubborness so she can pray and figure out that this is true. We need to find more investigators who will progress.

Well, I really can't think of anything else to write about. Today is going to be fun! The assistants are going to pick up us and two other companionships from our zone, and we are going down to Milwaukee South to play some basketball at the church down there.

Well thank you so much for writing, and for your love, prayers and support! I'll talk to you next week!

Love,

Elder Vogan

Monday, July 19, 2010

"ANOTHER WEEK"

Mon 7/19/10 8:41 AM
Hey family,
Still no baby.. it reminds me of waiting for my mission call! Well, it sounds like I'll hear about it next week then! That story about Megan was intense. Wow, poor little girl! I hope everything heals well without infection. (Megan put a fish hook through her lip)

This past week for us was pretty crazy as well. We only spent two of the days in our area, and the rest of the time was with other missionaries on exchanges. I got to go with Elder Stevens (the one I trained) on Tuesday! It happened to be his birthday too, so I spoiled him a little like a "dad" does, and bought him some gelado. He is working in Waukesha only 5 miles North of the Du Charmes house, so he's even closer to them than I am. They said something awhile ago about picking us up and taking us out to lunch sometime. Thursday, we went out to South Milwaukee and worked with the Spanish elders. The one I worked with, Elder Tolman, is scheming to get President to switch me to Spanish speaking. We are going home the same day, so we were thinking if that happened, our "dying" wish would be to serve together for our last transfer(s). So, that was a good day, and we found a group of people to teach by jumping in a 'ghetto ball' game with them and playing for a bit. Friday was zone conference, and there was a lot of changes that took place. President Jones brought out a new focus and things to emphasize from what he learned in the MTC trainings he had. We are doing a lot more roll playing now than ever. I kind of enjoy roll playing, but most of the other missionaries hate it. But yeah, alot of practice, evaluation, and re-practicing.

That night we were also on exchanges and stayed overnight in city area. And Saturday was pretty nuts. One of the craziest exchanges of my mission. (right next to my drunk Peter exchange). It was just one thing after another, and I don't even remember the order things happened. But one of the first things, we had the nicest young lady (20-22 or so) come up to Elder Hyte and me asking all these sincere questions. She is about to have her first baby, and she is about to get married and she knows she needs what we have. And she told us all this before we even really told her much of our message. Right when we were about to get her information and keep teaching her, this big, drunk, crack-head guy who just came up and grabbed our arms and said he needed help with whatever (people are always asking us for money). Raven, the nice girl, was still standing there waiting for us to teach her, but Satan sent this dude to get in the way, so we didn't get her information, but she does have our card so hopefully she'll call. We had a really good feeling about her. Then, after that we were kind of turned around (you know how I am with directions, and Elder Hyte is a brand new missionary), so we just kept walking and busing to where we thought was towards our next appointment. Through our journey we just kept teaching people one after another, it was a teach-a-thon. We found out we had done one big circle around the city, and we ended up back where we were at one time three hours later, and a guy who saw us the first time wondering, yelled to us the second time we happened to be there, and we taught him and he wants to learn more. Then when we were teaching a big group of very 'believing' black people, they wanted us to pray with them, so we held hands and prayed in a huge circle right outside with people passing by. Another drunk guy later called after us, and ran up to meet us, we were expecting him to ask for money too, but instead he told us that he was a member from Scottsdale and Queen Creek, and he served a mission in Brazil, and he was out here now way off the path. He warned us never to move to Milwaukee to live. Then, as we were heading home, we missed our bus that comes only every 25 minutes, so we decided to just start walking in the relative direction of home, and when we decided to stop walking and sit down at a bus stop, within 30 seconds, a car pulled over on the side of the road and a 'born again' Christian guy got out and walked across the street to condemn us. We just bore our testimonies that we do believe in Christ despite what he and his religion chose to believe. After he got a bit shifty and decided to "cast the devil out of us in the name of Christ". It was pretty blasphemous. We just looked at him after he did that, and asked him if we could do anything for him to help him out. He just walked back to his car saying, "I won't say 'God speed' but I will say good-bye". Haha, we just looked at each other and said, "That was weird."

So, there's my story for this week!

Love you,

Elder Vogan

Monday, July 12, 2010

RUNNING A 5K WITH WHITE SHIRTS, TIES, NAME TAGS AND GYM SHORTS

Mon 7/12/10 9:43 AM
Still no baby?! Dang, well I will be anxiously awaiting my next week's emails. That is so sad to hear about Porter Dixon and Sister Miller. Those families will definitely be in my prayers.
I'm glad to hear that Jordan did well on his talk and that last week's story fit right in! I think the maggot detail makes it more interesting too. Well I didn't have anything new like that to talk about this week. But this past week has been really crazy. On Friday, we had zone leader council with our new mission president, and we learned a lot about the new things he will be implementing. There will definitely be a lot of change. Instead of having zone conferences and interviews with President every transfer, it will now only be 4 times a year. But now, we will have 3 zone leader councils each transfer instead of 1. So, it seems like a lot more responsibility falls on our shoulders for the success of the missionaries in our zones. President Jones also told us that he is planning to hold a 4 day mission leadership training in August to teach the leaders and trainers about our new way of doing things. So that's going to be pretty crazy.

Something cool that we did this week was on Thursday evening, we ran a 5k race with one of our investigators and a member. It started right at dusk, and we ran in downtown Milwaukee. It was awesome! The city blocked off the streets that our route was on, and we ran with a couple thousand people. We went in our white shirts, ties, and name tags and then our gym shorts and running shoes so that people could recognize us as missionaries, and many people did. I can't tell you how many people cheered for us as we ran by saying, "Yay, go tie guys!" and stuff like that. It was funny too, going along with Milwaukee tradition, next to the water stands sitting there for us while we were running, there were also beer stands. So, some the runners would run right past the waters and buy a beer to drink while they kept running. It was pretty funny to us. And right at the end of the race, by the finish line, the streets were filled with all the people that ran, and also tons of people who didn't run, and there was a party in the streets. We didn't stay too long, but it was cool having members from different wards around Milwaukee stop us and say hi to us. And our investigator, Patti, and the member, Sister Tyson, thought it was way cool that we came. We hope to keep doing stuff like that.

Well, that's all the interesting news for this week. I will look forward to seeing pictures of little Charli next week!

Love,
Elder Vogan

Thursday, July 8, 2010

"WE HELPED SAVE A GUY'S LIFE"

Wed 7/07/10 2:55 PM
Happy Fourth of July and Happy Birthday, Whitney! I was really anxious this week to hear if Whitney had her baby yet, but I guess I'll get to be anxious for another week. Since the Fourth was Sunday, holiday schedule rolled over to Monday, so none of the libraries were open. And yesterday was just really busy, so today we get to email! Thank you so much for the nice birthday card! And thank you Dad for the birthday money - I was able to stock up pretty good on my protein and vitamins and we had a fun couple of times going out to eat. We haven't gone to Chili's yet, but next time we don't have a dinner appointment, we might do that.

Our week has been pretty crazy. Last Monday, later after we emailed, we helped save a guy's life. So, we decided to go out with the missionaries serving in downtown Milwaukee, and we went to a not so well-known beach to play football and hang out. After being there for a bit, we decided to venture through some brush and trees up the beach towards a more public beach. On the way, we were walking through people's private beaches who had their backyards up against Lake Michigan. As we were walking towards a big, concrete, look-out structure covered with graffiti, we saw a guy laying half in and half out of the water. Elder Radle is the one who saw him while a couple of other missionaries walked right past without seeing him laying there. We immediately called 911 and led the fireman and EMT's to the scene when they got to the house who's backyard we were in. It looked like the guy had fallen off the top of the rock structure onto the rocky beach, and he had been laying there for probably 2 days, in shock, hypothermia, with broken bones, and with maggetts eating his skin. He was still conscious though when we found him, so that was good. Since it was a private beach, we are almost positive he would have died soon if we had not decided to walk that way. After he was loaded up and taken up to the street where he was life-flighted, there were news crews there to interview us. We all just let Elder Radle do it, since he was the one who found the guy. So that's another cool mission story to remember. I'm glad we were able to be led to that guy before it was too late.

It is interesting to have President Barrett gone and to have a new mission president - President Jones. I'm not sure what to think yet, but I'm confident he'll do well. Fourth of July for us was sweet! (actually celebrated on the 3rd here) We went to the beach with a semi-recent-convert, part-member family and had a fun BBQ. We set up some beach chairs in the sand and watch the fireworks. Sunday went well too. Angela (lady we found at the bus stop) was at church and loved it, and we also had Patti there. She has been to church several times, but she is just hard to set up times to teach.

But yeah, everything else is going well here! Thank you for your prayers, and I'll be praying for you guys - especially Whitney!

Love,

Elder Vogan

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

BIRTHDAY WISHES FOR A 21 YEAR OLD

Mon 6/28/10 9:18 AM
Hey,
Thank you for the birthday wishes! And for the money, Dad! I will be looking for the card too! That's awesome to hear about Jordan's leadership skills and studliness - no surprise at all! I hope Whitney keeps doing well and that EFY goes well for Hannah!

This last week was pretty crazy for us. We were really low on miles, so we've been living with the city elders on the lake front - really cool area. It's been a little cramped though living in a studio apartment with four of us. We have our car parked and we have just been busing to the people on the east side of our area. There are hardly any buses that run on the west side, and most of the people that we see live on the east side. We were able to spend a lot more time working in our area this week. We actually found a new investigator and set a date with her during our first lesson with her this week. Her name is Angela, and we met her at a bus stop. So that was cool. Also, since we were already living with other missionaries, we had plenty of time to do exchanges with them and the two other sets of missionaries in the downtown city area. Also, preparing for President Barrett to leave and mission tour with our new mission president is crazy. President and Sister Jones fly in to Wisconsin tomorrow evening and President and Sister Barrett leave Wednesday morning. We will get to meet President Jones on Wednesday at mission tour!

Mom, you asked if I like being zone leader more than district leader. It's alot different. Zone leader is definitely a bigger responsibility, and so far we have had to deal with some 'drama' from some missionaries in this area that i never had to as district leader. The area where I was district leader - Rapids - was a nice area, and the district didn't have many problems at all. This zone that we are in is known to always have problems with disobedience of missionaries and companion struggles. President is counting on Elder Radle and I to clean it up. I can see why there are problems here. There are so many distractions in the city, and there are so many ways to be disobedient, so many ways to lose focus on what we are here to do. So to answer your question, it does depend on the area where we serve, but i like being zone leader because it forces me to grow and improve even more so i can be an example and help the missionaries in my stewardship. It's not something i aspire to though.

But thank you again for the emails! I'm glad Father's Day went well last week, Dad! (I hope you got my card). I'm excited to go eat some cheesecake factory for my birthday! And then go to GNC and buy some protein!

I love you!
Elder Vogan

Monday, June 21, 2010

MATCHING TIES


CIRCUIT TRAINING THE RELIEF SOCIETY SISTERS

Mon 6/21/10 9:36 AM
Family,
Everything is going great here in Milwaukee! We had a lot going on last week with exchanges and leadership meeting on Friday. We are doing well with helping other missionaries on exchanges, but we feel like we are lacking a bit in our own area. So, our goal now is to find that balance of giving diligent and effective help to the other areas and still spending time in our area finding and teaching. We are also focusing on building stronger relationships with the ward members, especially auxiliary leaders. The relief society activity that we helped out with on Tuesday was great for building our relationships. That was the activity that they had me teach and train everyone on exercising with things at home. We went in the cultural hall and had a circuit for all the women and some of the young women who came too. A lot more people were there than expected too - probably 35 or 40. It was a lot of fun!

I am excited to hear about Whitney! I'm sure everyone is getting ready for the new addition. That's cool to hear about Breann and Ben's wedding and everyone going to it. I hope everyone is doing well. I heard from Preston, and that was really good. I'll be sure to write Chantell either today or tomorrow. For my birthday, you don't need to send anything. I might use my home account to buy some new shirts and socks.

Thank you for everything! I hope you all have a wonderful week!

Love,
Elder Vogan

Monday, June 14, 2010

"WHO ARE THOSE GUYS? WHY DOES SHE WANT A PICTURE WITH THEM?"

Mon 6/14/10 11:25 AM
Mom,
I am glad things are well and that you enjoyed Girls Camp! It's also awesome to hear about Jordan's friend, Pete. That will be a great experience for Jordan to be a missionary to him. He mentioned his name once in his last letter to me, but he didn't tell me anything about him. I'm glad Megan has a good routine for the summer that let's you relax a little. (hopefully)

This past week went pretty okay. Nothing really too new to talk about. We were able to get to know alot of the members this week, and we are working with them to have appointments at their houses and take them on splits and stuff. We had a pretty fun exchange this weekend again in the city. The Blue Angels were having a three-day air show on the waterfront on Lake Michigan, and there were thousands of people there from all over. We were able to talk to alot of people. On Saturday, the fog was too thick for the jets to fly, but most of the people still hung around by the beach. We took a break to skip some rocks (which we found out was a great 'finding' activity). While we were doing that, this really cute girl came up and asked to get her picture taken with us. She was a recent convert from North Carolina, and she was just down for the day, and she loves missionaries. So she got a picture with us on her camera, and then I got a picture with my camera too. haha. It was great though because then the hundreds of people who saw that are thinkin', "What, who are those guys? Why did she want a picture with them?"

Another cool thing, I found out yesterday that all went well in Wisconsin Rapids with Britney and Joe! They were both baptized and had great support from the ward! That was so good to hear. I'm going to send them a card.

Well, I really can't think of much else to write. So, have a great week!

Love,
Elder Vogan

THE CITY IS SWEET!

Mon 6/07/10 9:35 AM
Hello family,
So, I didn't hear from anyone this week on my email, so hopefully all is well! I did get the awesome package you sent. Thank you so much for the good music! I'm eating the candy slowly but surely. I have to be more hardcore than ever on my diet now to support Elder Radle with his weight loss goals. He started his mission at 310 lbs. and now he is down to 276 lbs. I told him that he'll have a six-pack before we are done together, so hopefully we will stay together more than 6 weeks or he'll be losing a lot of weight really fast. Just with me, so far, he's lost about 15 lbs. And so now, because someone from the Relief Society found out I used to do a little bit of personal training, they are going to have me teach a workout class for the Relief Society activity next Tuesday. Haha, that will be fun.

The City is sweet! I feel like this area is a big reason why I was called to this mission. It is really fun, and almost too easy to find people to teach and come to church here. The ward is awesome too. Most of the ward is filled with young couples and families from out west here to work for Kohl's at headquarters or at medical school at UWM. So, most of the men in the ward are young return missionaries still excited about missionary work. At church this week, we had two awesome guys come: Khalid and Kartone. They are both in their early 20's. We actually set a baptism date with Khalid last week, and Kartone may end up being baptized the same day: July 3rd. Kartone was planning to just stay for sacrament meeting, but he loved it so much that he cancelled his plans and stayed for "one more". And then after the second class, which he liked even better, he chose to stay for the whole thing. They both felt the Spirit as strong as I know anyone has felt it. During the last hour, Elder Radle and I chose just to teach them in the foyer and we realized even more how much they enjoyed it. They have both grown up in the roughest part of Milwaukee. Khalid's brother even got shot a few years back to protect his sister. He got shot in the throught, so he is paralized now. But during our meeting with them, they were talking about how baptism is a really serious thing, and if they do that they can't go back to their old way of life. If you can imagine Ludacris (Kartone) bearing testimony about following Christ, that's exactly how it seemed. It was the coolest thing ever! Because Kartone knows how serious a covenant is with God, he didn't want to say for sure that he will be baptized yet, but as he continues to be exposed to that Spirit of our message, I know he will be. He even said a really great, sincere prayer after our gospel principles class that blew Khalid's mind. We were all surprised that he even came to church.

But yeah, I think that's it for this week, because the other elders are waiting on me. But I love you, and I hope you have a wonderful week!

Elder Vogan

Friday, June 4, 2010

IF YOU DON'T LOVE ELDER RADLE....

Wed 6/02/10 12:54 PM
Hello,
I couldn't write on Monday because of the holiday, and yesterday was really booked, but we made time for emailing today! Those pictures of Elder Molano were awesome! He looks really good! I'll probably get the package at zone conference. Transfers went well; I'm still adjusting to the new area. Yeah, right when we got in town, we got to see the Kabitzkes and the DuCharmes! It was sweet. When I was there, I felt like I hadn't ever left, except for the fact that Brandon and Tyler had each grown at least a couple inches. Zone Leader duties actually used to be less work than district leader until a couple months ago when President Barrett felt inspired that we need to be out of our areas working with other missionaries 50% of the time. So, now we spend just as much time with the missionaries as the district leaders, but our area of responsibility is bigger. Elder Radle and I are over two districts for this zone. Instead of being responsible for training missionaries every week at district meeting, we are assigned to give only one training a transfer at zone conference. We do attend district meetings and help the district leaders with whatever they need though. Our main goal is to help the district leaders to be solid, so they can progress the work within the districts. This assignment was less intimidating to me than training and being the district leader.

Something cool now is that one of the district leaders is Elder Stevens - the missionary I trained! Yesterday, we went on a three-way exchange with Elder Stevens' area and one of the areas in his district, Lake Michigan. Elder Radle stayed in Elder Stevens' area with his companion, and he and I went to Lake Michigan. It was like old times working together. We did a lot of good work in Lake Michigan too - taught 8-9 lessons and found 5 or 6 people who said they would like to learn more. The exchange was only for 3 hours during the afternoon too! I was awesome.

We've done two other exchanges as well since I've been here. Friday, we went to the beach in downtown Milwaukee and played soccer with a bunch of "hood figures". haha. It was a lot of fun. President likes us to get out there and be seen, and play sports as a finding activity. The City Elders have done really well with that already, finding a few new investigators through sports. The day after that, we did the same thing, but we played streetball basketball in a cage court. That day was such good work for us. We spent the whole day in the city inviting and teaching everyone we saw. There were so many people out and about that we didn't need to knock on any doors to talk to people. It was Elder Radle, me, and one of the assistants. All you have to do in the city for people to talk to you is to ask if they love Jesus. They all answer the same way, and they all want us to teach them.

My companion bio: Elder Greg Radle; just turned 22; from North Ogden, UT; I served right next to him during my first transfer while he was in the office; since the office, he has served as zone leader in different areas throughout the mission; he wants to be a pharmacist when he grows up (something I might do too..?); he likes working out, and I told him that I'll help him get a six pack by the end of the time I am serving with him; he wants to go to Utah State; likes hunting and long walks on the beach; goes home in December; he snow shoed up Lewis peak once; he likes to snow board; he is an awesome guy and an awesome companion; very easy to get along with; in the words of President Barrett, "If you don't love Elder Radle, you can just get out of America."

Well, that's it. Good luck with summer, girls camp, the new cute puppy, and good luck to Whitney with the baby!

Love,

Elder Vogan

Monday, May 24, 2010

ZONE LEADER & TRANSFER THIS WEEK

Mon 5/24/10 10:16 AM
Happy Monday!
Haha, what did Sister Swearingen write on facebook? But yeah it's true; I will be transferring to Sussex/Parkway (Milwaukee North Stake), and I will be serving as zone leader with Elder Radle. That should be awesome - I love Elder Radle! Do you remember that picture of me carrying that really big guy from the beginning of my mission? That's Elder Radle. Being zone leader should be a good growing experience for me too. Milwaukee North is the most condensed zone and stake with members in the mission (more members per capita), so I imagine I'll be spending less time in cars and more time outside this summer. Elder Quinney will be staying in Rapids for at least one more transfer - lucky. Two transfers wasn't enough time to spend here. I'll be having my last dinner at the Swearingen's tonight. Something cool is that on Wednesday, the night before transfers, 2 of our investigator families (The Sigmans and the Gundersons) are going to have a going away dinner party for me. We are going to have a traditional Wisconsin cookout with burgers and brats, and cake and brownies!

That puppie is really cute. How old is he? I think Sully would be a good name. I can just imagine Megan saying, "So-ley". It's great to here about all the awesome things going on: the baby shower, the temple dedication, the Suns, and the shows. No one is following basketball that we talk to out here, so the only updates I get are from you. I'm glad Whitney is getting so spoiled with love!

So, the work has still been going great! We taught Cassie's brother, Ryan, but not her dad. We were going to set a baptism date with Ryan, but we chose not too yet because of his severe dislexia and less-accountable-ness. We feel like Bishop would need to okay that one. If Cassie's dad was also getting baptized with him, I would feel better about it too. Britney and Joe Sigman are still really solid! I'm sad that I won't be here for their baptism. They came to church again this week and loved it. The ward has done so well with fellowshipping them at activities they've been to that they fit right in and already feel comfortable. They follow through with every commitment right when we extend each one to them. One lesson this week, we left kind of a lot for them to read, and they had it all read that night before they said prayers together and went to bed. This is the kind of missionary work I love to be a part of!

Well, I will talk to you next week, and I'll let you know how I'm settling in to Milwaukee!

Love,

Elder Vogan

Friday, May 21, 2010

CASSIE'S BAPTISM WAS AWESOME!

Mon 5/17/10 11:40 AM
Hello,
Thank you for your prayers! I know they helped us this week. Cassie's baptism went awesome! She had so much support from family, friends, and members. She said her dad will probably want to take the lessons and join the Church too! Preston visited! That sounds like it was a fun time. I bet he had a lot of awesome stories to share with you. Crazy that dad got to visit Elder Molano! That is really cool how that all worked out. I'm glad you liked the movies! Yeah, I guess I am a tease, huh? haha.

But yeah, our week was really awesome! We taught a lot of lessons, found 4 new people to teach, and set 2 more baptism dates with a young couple: Joe and Britney. (See my email to President Barrett for more details on that story). Everything just seemed to work our perfectly with them. They were definitely prepared to receive the gospel. They quit drinking and smoking already awhile ago after having their son, J.J. (Joseph Jr.).

Well, I spent most of my time writing to President - Sorry! But I hope everyone has an awesome week, and I will pray that Megan will stay out of trouble.

Love,

Elder Vogan

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

GREAT TALKING TO YOU YESTERDAY

Mon 5/10/10 10:13 AM
Hi family!
It was awesome to talk to you last night! Now I don't have much to say. I hope you enjoy those movies tonight! I think you guys will think they are pretty funny. Thank you for your prayers for our investigators and struggling members!

Today, we are planning on going down to Adams/Friendship and meeting up with the missionaries down there to have a BBQ and go hiking. Cody has a friend down there, so he's excited. He went to prom with her. So, he's driving us.

But yeah, thank you again for everything, and I hope you have a wonderful week!

Love,

Elder Vogan

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

COPIES OF THE BOOK OF MORMON DISAPPEAR

Mon 5/03/10 11:24 AM
Hello!
I am excited for Sunday at 5PM your time, when I get to talk to you! Congrats to Hannah with her dance concert; I wish I could've been there! And I am glad Jordan got the letter I sent. It's easier to correspond more meaningfully when I sit down and handwrite, rather than emailing where I don't have a ton of time to write. So yeah, I will take some time to write Hannah a letter too. I am excited to hear about how her patriarchal blessing goes! I hope her experience strengthens her as much as mine did for me.
This past week went pretty well. We continue to teach tons of lessons, and they seem to just be falling into our laps. More than half the people we contact for the first time will allow us to at least share a simple lesson with them. It's funny, every time I refill my backpack with copies of the Book of Mormon, they disappear. haha.

We are still working with Cassie alot; our most progressing investigator. We are still waiting on her mom, but she is confident that her mom will soon be supportive of her desire. Her dang relatives keep telling her garbage about the Church though, and she seems to be an easily swayed person. But her dad looks at it logically as something that will at least give his daughter something good to do with her life. We still haven't been able to meet her family yet, but hopefully we can this week.

Well I really can't think of anything else to write. I love the Gospel and I love my mission. I know that the things we teach are true, and the Gospel is real. It's not just something interesting to talk about, but it is something that everyone must choose to live in order to have true happiness in families and in life. It brings clarity and perspective that nothing else can. Sorry I don't share my testimony with you enough.

Hope you all have a wonderful week, and I'll talk to you on Sunday!

Love,

Elder Vogan

Friday, April 30, 2010

WE ALL NEED OUR 'OWN' RESTORATION

Mon 4/26/10 11:01 AM
Hey family,
Yes, I got the package; Thank you so much! The pictures were awesome! I can't wait to see Whitney's cute little baby in a couple months! I am sad to hear that you guys had some sicknesses last week. I hope everyone is over that, especially Jordan and Hannah with their "big weeks".

That's awesome that Nyal is reporting soon to the MTC! He is going to the same mission as the three elders I roomed with in the MTC: Elder Butikofer, Elder Duthie, and Elder Cranney. That's crazy to hear that everyone is leaving Las Sendas. I hope none of the families were too devastated by it. "Come what may and love it" is all we can do, after all we can do. Hmm, I don't know if you should get a dog... I'm pretty sure I know what the outcome would be. (Megan eats dog poop) Although I have grown to like Labs out here. It seems like everyone has one of those in Wisconsin. Haha yeah, Mandy and Saige told me that they added Jordan on Facebook. They are both really cool. Mandy is Cody's younger sister.

But yeah, this week went really well! We had zone conference on Wednesday, and that, of course, was uplifting and motivating. We learned about each investigator needing their own "restoration". They each need their James 1:5 and they each need their sacred grove. And ultimately, they each need to kneel humbly, and sincerely pray with a desire to know and to do what God wants them to do. So, we had a training from President Barrett and setting the stage so that our investigators will pray. It was sweet.

Cassie Wills (Star and Eli's friend) is still progressing well. Mid-last week her parents told her that they had changed their minds, and that she would have to wait to be baptized until she was 18. But then on Sunday, after hearing that she told the young womens class that she may be getting baptized on the 8th of May, we asked her about it. She said that her dad had changed his mind and would convince her mom to let her be baptized if she can show that she is doing it for the right reasons, and not just because Star and Eli were baptized. So that's where we are at with her. We actually have two other girls (Stephanie and Tanisha) in that same boat: wanting to be baptized with parents unwilling to give permission.

So that's pretty much it for the week! I look forward to hearing from you next week!

Love,

Elder Vogan

Saturday, April 24, 2010

AWESOME WEEK!

Mon 4/19/10 10:31 AM
Hello family,
Yes, Elijah's baptism went great! Everything worked out perfectly, and the Spirit was very strong throughout the service. The Swearingens were in charge of the music, and that added alot to the spirit of the meeting. Cody led, Sister Swearingen was the pianist, and Mandy sang a great musical number between my and Elder Quinney's talks. Many people came to support Eli, and we had a nice potluck dinner after it was over. The confirmation on Sunday went great as well.

One cool thing that happened the morning of the baptism: As we walked into Star and Eli's apartment, they had a friend over (Cassie), and the first thing that she said to us was, "I want to join too!" Elder Quinney was caught off guard, and he looked at me, and we both said, "Okay, sweet." haha. She is 16 years old and has already asked for permission from her parents if she could learn from us and be baptized. We are trying to expand the circle and include the rest of her family in the lessons as well. We asked her why she decided that she wanted to join, and she said it was because of the way she has seen Star's life change, because she is so much happier now. And she has also seen the changes that Eli was making in his life to prepare for his baptism, and she wanted it too. Interesting though, is that she is mostly the friend of Star and Eli's sister, Rea, who hasn't been that interested in the Gospel. So, we told Rea that if she decided that she did want to learn, that she could be baptized on the same day as her best friend. She didn't commit to anything yet, but hopefully she will choose to do that! Right now, Cassie's baptism is scheduled for May 8th.

The rest of the week also went well! We were able to teach a lot of really good lessons, and things just seemed to fall in place, for the most part, for us this week.

Thank you for sending that package; I look forward to receiving it! Happy Birthday, Kyle! Hope everyone has a great week!

Love,

Elder Vogan

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

"FUTURE MISSIONARY" BADGE FOR ELI

Mon 4/12/10 11:32 AM
Happy Birthday Megan! I will be sending her something today hopefully. Well it's always good to hear from you, and I'm glad things are going well! That was an awesome story about Jordan's volleyball game! Wow, I wish I could've seen it! We did get to eat tuna cassorole like two days after she talked to you about it. And it tasted just like home! haha. You can send oranges if it is convenient for you.

Well this week went really well for us too. We found out that both Elder Quinney and I will be staying for another transfer, so that will be good. We will be able to celebrate our year mark together! We had a lot going on this week. We went down for a baptism for a lady named Tammy on Friday, and we brought Eli and Star with us. She is from the area right south of us. And afterward, President Barrett was there, so he was able to have a really good (long) interview with Eli. Eli has been so motivated ever since. It also helped that he came with us and the ward on a trip to the St. Paul temple on Saturday. He could go in, but he spent a lot of time studying scriptures in the waiting room, and he walked around the grounds with others who didn't go in. The Khang family was sealed on Saturday, so they had family members come that didn't go in the temple. It was so cool to see a family sealed together. The Khangs are a Hmong family, and they were baptized a year ago, and they have 3 young daughters. During that, Star was able to go on with another group of people (who she didn't know, but she didn't care) and she did baptisms for the first time. It was a really fun trip for everyone. After we took pictures and left the temple grounds, we went to an LDS bookstore, and Eli bought a "future missionary" name tag, which he wore the rest of the day Saturday and to church on Sunday. I asked the lady at the counter if she sold too many of those to non-members, and she said that was her first time.

So, after Eli's interview from the zone leaders on Thursday, he will be set to go for his baptism on Saturday. Please keep praying for him though, and thank you for what you have done already! We have been doing a "seminary" type thing with Eli and Star each day in the mornings, so we have been seeing them at least once a day for a couple weeks now, and they love it. Star's little girl, Dezaray (Ray Ray) is the cutest little 15 month old girl, and she gets really excited to run and shake our hands when we go over. And she will throw a fit if we don't shake her hand before we leave.

So that's about I'll I will write for this week! Talk to you next week!

Love you!

Elder Vogan

Monday, April 5, 2010

HAPPY EASTER!

Mon 4/05/10 2:36 PM
Happy Easter!
Yes, I also loved conference this weekend! It was one of the best that I remember, and it went so fast! That is really cool that the family did that question thing before it; that is actually what we told the people we are working with that they should do. It was very interesting how close the topics were this conference, with the emphasis on the family and especially parenting. They aren't assigned topics or anything, so it strengthens my testimony of their inspired calling and helping us to know for sure what the Lord wants us to know. As missionaries (at least my companion and I), we will be sure to focus our message even more on the importance of home and the family. I think my favorite talk(s) this conference were between President Uchtdorf's and President Eyring's priesthood session talks. But there were a lot of other great talks, so it's hard to choose. When we heard Elder Perry talk about coming to Milwaukee, we indeed did high five and cheer. haha. We haven't gotten to watch the last session yet, but we are planning to do that for FHE at the Swearingen's tonight. (We were at their non-member family's easter dinner yesterday afternoon.) So I haven't heard the story yet about the Forests.

Haha, yeah that is weird that my 'hump day' is coming up. A year used to seem like a long time..? Well, I am having the time of my life, so I'm glad I still have another year to go. (Although I do really miss my family!) If you want to send me a package, you should send it to the mission home, just in case I get transferred next week.- Hopefully I won't be going yet, but who knows. Haha, Sister Swearingen told me yesterday that she was being my advocate in getting more packages from home.. haha. So for this package, hmm, you could send mints... and maybe a couple snickers and reese's.. or for healthy stuff, you could send out some protein bars/powder... cd's would be great if you want to (efy music is good).. I don't know, random things are fun too.

So other than conference, last week went really well for us too! We taught quite a few lessons, and Cody Swearingen was with us during most of the week. One of the zone leaders even gave him a blank name tag, which he wears now when he comes out with us. He loves tracting too, so we've taken him with us a couple times. His neighbors right behind his house are actually pretty interested. The are engaged and about to have their first baby, so they are in a position where they are starting to think about spiritual and important things.

Eli is doing really well also. He watched all 5 sessions of conference, with the help of the good ward members we have. He told us many times that the messages he heard changed his life, and he talked alot about how great the weekend was. The thing we are working with him now to do is helping him apply the things he is learning. He is definitely going through a true repentance process, but I'm not sure how real the gospel is to him yet. He talks kind of abstractly about it. But he is definitely on track for his baptism on the 17th. Just please keep praying for him.

We also found some people that live near a part-member family we teach who were way open, and they even accepted baptism commitments for the 1st of May. (Shona, Billy, Jen, Roxy, and Don) They have a lot to change and a long road before they can be baptized, but if they are as sincere and exercise the faith they need to, it will happen.

So that's about all I'll write today. I hope you have a wonderful week!

Love you,

Elder Vogan

Monday, March 29, 2010

NEW FRIENDS--THE SWEARINGENS

Mon 3/29/10 2:11 PM
Family,
I loved the emails this week! I don't have too much time to write today, so it won't be too long. That is really cool that grandma is talking to Elder Molano! I got a really nice card from the Burrs and Irishs this week, and that made my day. Also, I wanted to thank dad for replenishing my account last week, I had to dip in it last week a bit. I am glad that Whitney's tests turned out okay!

This week was great! Our highlight had to be Eli bearing one of the most awesome testimonies yesterday I've ever heard. I was a little worried as to what he would say when he got up and walked to the pulpit, but it was perfect! He made his sister, Star, cry. It was also great because then the members came up to him to meet him after sacrament meeting. We actually took Cody Swearingen with us to teach Eli and Star on Saturday, and that lesson went very well. Cody is an awesome teacher, and he will be a great missionary. We are actually spending our day with him today for P-day, and he is with us here at the library right now. Very cool guy, and the Swearingens are such a fun family, so I'm glad you guys are facebook buddies now.

Well, that's it for this week!

Love,

Elder Vogan

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

THINGS ARE ROLLING IN WI RAPIDS

Mon 3/22/10 11:47 AM
Hi family,
I am feeling perfect right now, so no need to worry - it was just a 24 hour flu; Tuesday morning I was up early and ready to go. I'm glad you got my package. Yeah, when I was packing to come to Rapids and decided to buy a box and send home anything I won't need out here. Haha, that is really funny about Megan and the cheesehead! That is a suvenier from when I took the tour at Lambeau Field. Mom and Jordan can "take care of" my glasses while I'm away. I still have the other ones I bought before the mission out here.

That's awesome to hear about all the missionaries going out! Man, soon that will be Jordan Vogan getting his call too! Also, I got a very cute card from the young women in the ward there - Thank you, Hannah! and tell the girls and Sister Jasper thank you as well!

Work is going very well here! Star is a 20 year-old single mother who was baptized two weeks before I got here, and she is the most solid new member ever. Her 19 year-old brother, Eli(Elijah), came home on Thursday from being away, and she called us that afternoon to have us come over and teach him that night. He now has a baptism date for April 17th! He is nearly as solid as she is, but he has some things he needs to overcome before then. He is very genuine and sincere though, and he knows already that what we have taught him is true. So, it has been good teaching him, and we will teach him again tonight.

We have also been really strengthening our relationship with the members here, and they love us. So, hopefully that will help them to trust us and give us referrals, and teach with us. Our other investigators that I talked about before are about where they were at last time I wrote about them :/. We are workin though.

Well I love you, and I will especially keep Whit and Charli in my prayers, so let me know how that is going in my next email! Have a great week!

Elder Vogan

Thursday, March 18, 2010

ZONE CONFERENCE WITH ELDER CHRISTOPHERSON

Tue 3/16/10 9:55 AM
Hello,
Sorry I didn't write yesterday; I wasn't feeling well, so we didn't make it to the library. Yeah, it was sad to see Elder Caldwell leave! I was with him at zone conference, and President had him bear his testimony before leaving. That caught me way off guard because he hadn't said anything about that to me before then. But yes, that situation is very sad. Now I'll want to make it to the Caldwell family reunions.

I'm glad you are all together somewhat enjoying your spring break! This past week for us was awesome! On Wednesday we had zone conference, as I briefly mentioned, and we learned a lot about how to be more effective missionaries in helping our investigators keep their commitments. It was held right at our building in Rapids, which was nice not having to drive long distance like usual. We got to do that on Saturday though, when we drove out to Neenah and had a meeting with Elder Christopherson at the building there. It was good to be able to shake his hand and to hear his inspired words that will help our mission specifically. After that meeting, we came back and did a lot of good work, finding two new investigators and several potential investigators Saturday evening. The thing that really seemed to help people is to focus on how repentance (and the ability to change) is an opportunity rather than a burden. When people internalize and understand that, they admit like Greg (one of our new investigators), "Wow, thank you guys for doin' this. I really do need to change and get my act together." He admited that he had felt the Spirit prompt him to do things a couple times in his life, and he chose to ignore those feelings because he was scared. When he understood that it was bad that he did that, he put his head down and experienced "godly sorrow".

We are working with three teenaged kids (Angel, Ausin, and Tenisha), and they are the closest to baptism of everyone we are teaching. Their hold-up is their parents not allowing them to be baptized. So, we are just continuing to work with them and pray for their parents.

Well, hope you have a fun week, and I will talk to you next week!

Love,

Elder Vogan

Monday, March 8, 2010

DISTRICT LEADER RESPONSIBILITIES & SUCH

Mon 3/08/10 2:49 PM
Transfers did go well. And yes, I did get the pictures! Holy man, JVo is a beast! I know I was never that big. Man, I'm glad I didn't bully him too much growing up, or I would be scared to come home! As district leader, I am "responsible for the physical and spiritual needs of each of the missionaries in the district". There are four companionships in the district: 6 elders (me, Quinney, Starks, Johnson, Warr, and Krous) and an older couple, the Pyrahs. I have to keep a good relationship with each companionship by calling them periodically throughout the week to see how they are doing, and I report afterword to the zone leaders. On Sundays, the other missionaries report and account for their "numbers" throughout the week, and they update me on their investigators' progress and other concerns. I am responsible for training the missionaries during district meetings, doing companionship exchanges, and I will attend leadership training midway throughout the transfer. So, yeah, I think that covers it.

Elder Quinney is a funny guy. I told you before that he was in my district in the MTC. He is from Las Vegas, NV, and he loves mechanics - especially working on cars. He is a good singer and plays the piano a little better than I do. He loves to work hard, and expects to be perfectly obedient. And we are enjoying our time together so far.

It's awesome to hear about Dad's baptism going well! And that's also awesome that Elder Oaks came to stake conference down there! He is actually coming to Milwaukee in a few weeks as well. We are also having a missionary conference with Elder Christopherson on Saturday morning!

This past week went well, but not as well for the work. One of the big things I don't like about transfers is leaving behind all of the investigators we had doing well, and then coming to a new place where I have to build new relationships with the investigators and members. Unfortunately, our teaching pool here is very small compared to Manitowoc, so we will be spending more time "finding" than teaching. Right now a major goal we have is to get our area book up-to-date, and find some people to teach as we go through and call/stop by potential and former investigators.

I hope you have another great week!

Love,

Elder Vogan

Monday, March 1, 2010

TRANSFER/DISTRICT LEADER COMING THIS WEEK

Mon 3/01/10 9:54 AM
Happy New Week,Well, this transfer is coming to an end already, and I found out that I am being transferred. Most people don't find out where they are going until tomorrow, but I found out last night from president Barrett that I am going to Wisconsin Rapids to be the new district leader there! It will be good to have more responsibility. Every time I start to feel really confident and good about myself and the work, I either get transferred or get a new challenge - in this case, I get both. It will be good, and I know I'll grow from it. My new companion will be Elder Quinney who was in my district at the MTC, so that will be fun. He is an outgoing guy, who can be off-the-wall at times, but he is a dedicated and obedient missionary, so we'll do work. I'm bummed though that I won't be here for the baptisms and that I only got to be with Elder Lester for one transfer. He is such a good missionary and teacher!

This past week was fun and fruitful. We had two Hmong volleyball nights on Thursday and Friday evening because Thao Yang's younger brother was coming home from his mission Saturday night, and the Yang's had a lot of family in town. We a had a sign-up sheet for those who came, if they wanted to learn more about the church, and we had a dvd about President Monson playing in the hallway. It is a great finding activity. I learned how to spike really well by a couple of the really good volleyball players, so I am excited to play with Jordan and Hannah when I get home!

We had 7 investigators, and 9 total non-members come to church yesterday - another great week! Sister Lee and her family are loving coming to church. The girls are making good friends, and Sister Lee is feeling loved by the Relief Society. For some reason though, Sister Lee said that she doesn't want the girls to be baptized until August.. (What?!) We aren't taking it too seriously though. I think it will happen within the next 6 weeks with Bishop Jones and Elder Yang's help. The girls are ready NOW.

Sacrament Meeting yesterday was really good - Elder Yang's homecoming. He actually served in Sacramento, and he knew Elder Molano! He is a spiritual giant and a very humble guy. His mom gave a talk and testimony in Hmong and he translated for her, and then he gave his talk. It was a very spiritual meeting. We had Britney Matzen with us at church, and it was her first time there. And she was crying the whole time because the Spirit touched her so much; maybe even more than everyone else. She is the girl who had cancer with the Greenfield's daughter, and I called Sister Greenfield and told her about it this morning. Britney stayed for all 3 hours and loved it. She learned a lot and made friends with some of the young women too. Now we(they) just need to help the rest of the family come.

Thank you for forwarding "vogatron"s (Uncle Mike or Uncle Jim?) message! I really liked that story! Something along those lines happened this week too when we were teaching Mary Jane White. We were teaching her 'Faith in Jesus Christ', and I had this analogy come to me when I was teaching, "When people say, 'Show me a miracle and THEN I'll believe' is like saying, 'Make me lose weight, and THEN I'll do the diet' - faith precedes the miracle." All of us at the lesson laughed and thought that was a good analogy.

Well, that's it for this week. I will tell you all about my new area and companion next week!

Love,
Elder Vogan

Thursday, February 25, 2010

TEACHING BY THE SPIRIT

Mon 2/22/10 10:36 AM
Hello!It is awesome to hear about all the people getting mission calls and leaving on their missions! The work is moving forward pretty well here. We had 9 non-members at sacrament meeting between the two units, Chilton and Manitowoc, yesterday! Sister Lee's whole family finally made it to church this week! So that was 5 non-member/investigators right there. It was another awesome week for lessons for us, too. We have been doing really well with being even more open with everyone we meet. Our higher level of boldness is encouraging our faith, while it is our faith that gives us boldness in the first place. It's interesting how often principles and attributes do that in the gospel and in life.

We found 3 new investigators who actually know the Greenfield family from my last area. (Muskego) When I left there to be transfered, they told me about this family who they were friends with (there daughters fought cancer at the same time together). Since I've been in Manitowoc, we have tried to meet with their family, but there was always something going on, and our rescheduled appointments never worked out. Finally, we were able to teach the daughters and one of their friends the Restoration, and they accepted copies of the Book of Mormon as well as the commitment to read and pray about it. Hopefully they will progress, attend church, gain a testimony, be baptized, receive the Holy Ghost, and be sealed together as an Eternal family in the temple! They could use that in their lives.

Cole Miller has been progressing well, and he attended all three meetings yesterday, for the first time in his life. He did, however, have to postpone his baptism date until the end of March. (Hopefully I'm still here) This isn't bad for us because it will give us more time to help him and his family understand that the commitment to be baptized includes the commitment to attend church weekly, and not just the necessary 3 consecutive times before his baptism. Although we have taught that, we aren't sure that the family completely understands it.

We also had some good lessons yesterday. One in particular, I knew 100% that the Spirit was working through me as I taught. It is awesome when that happens because it is almost like I can "sit back" and listen to and think about the things I am saying. I feel like I am being taught as much as the people we are actually teaching. Not too mention, the people we are teaching can feel the Spirit stronger when that happens.

Anyway, I am glad everything is well at home! And that is very exciting that Dad will be the one baptizing is former assistant! Thank you for your prayers, and I will talk to you next week!

Love,
Elder Vogan

Monday, February 22, 2010

CHRIST IS CHARITY

Sat 2/20/10 10:01 PM
After years of investigating the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Sister Smotherman was finally baptized on January 24th! It was a spiritual and emotional rollarcoaster, but with the help of President Barrett and ward leaders, we were able to help Sister Smotherman make this wonderful covenant with her Heavenly Father and move forward toward her true goal of being sealed in the temple to her husband and son. She has a great testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel.
- Elder Vogan and Elder Lester


Monday, February 15, 2010

HAPPY VALENTINES!!

Mon 2/15/10 9:09 AM
Thank you for the nice Valentine's Day card! I didn't think I would get anything. I loved hearing about Dad's assistant; that is really awesome! I hope everyone's week went well!

This week went pretty well for us. We had a lot of non-members/investigators at church yesterday - 6 people came. And we were able to involve the members of Manitowoc and Chilton in our teaching alot more this week as well. Throughout my mission, coordinating lessons with members hasn't ever really been a strong point for me, but I know if we do it, we will be more successful. I hope Jordan is taking opportunities to go out with the missionaries! I know I regret not going out with them before my mission. Elder Lester talks about going out with them all the time, and everyone can tell because he is so much more prepared and such a great teacher - especially for only being out 4 months.

It's kinda sad thinking that we would have had three baptisms on Saturday and confirmations yesterday, if only the three sisters could get to church. We feel like they are ready, but it is their mom who isn't ready for them to be baptized. I think she, like alot of people, feels like her daughters need to know and understand every little thing about the gospel before they can be baptized. And we do our best to help our investigators be prepared to make that covenant of being baptized. The real learning comes after the baptism though.

Well, love you! Have a great week!

Elder vogan

Monday, February 8, 2010

WINTER ISN'T SO BAD

Mon 2/08/10 9:08 AM
Well, I actually didn't get anything from Mom yet this week, but maybe by the time I'm done writing this email I'll get something like other times when that has happened. Haha, yeah that was an icicle from off the roof of the church building. And it was even bigger before part of it broke off! This winter hasn't been too bad at all. And people were trying to make me worried about it... Maybe next winter will bring more of the winter I was expecting.

Haha, Elder Caldwell is funny! We got a couple calls from other Elders in other areas telling us that President had used our messages at zone conference too. Now there is some expectation from those missionaries expecting to hear about more baptisms from our area. (Which is good for me. Whatever adds motivation) That Hmong family that had the three girls commiting to be baptized was not the same family that gave me the Hmong name, but they are really cool. An issue did arise with them yesterday when they didn't come to church. Their mom, who is a member, decided to take them to Sheboygan for a birthday party Saturday night, and they decided not to come home for church. We told the girls that in order to be baptized on the 13th they would have to show their commitment by coming to church, so we are pretty sure we will be pushing the date until we can see that they do actually desire to be baptized. They are old enough to make that choice, and we are disappointed that their mom wasn't more helpful because she knew they should have been at church. But who knows, maybe we will be surprised to hear that they went to church in Sheboygan.

Good luck with the hunting draw, and congratulations to Jordan! Who's the lucky girl? I hope you guys have an awesome week!

Love,
Elder Vogan

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

MORE BAPTISM DATES SET

Mon 2/01/10 4:58 PM
It is always good to hear from you guys! The oranges are doing great for us. We still have at least 3/4 box left, so you won't have to worry about sending any more out anytime soon. I found that Donny Osmond jacket at the Senior Center where we do service on Wednesdays. I told the lady there that you were in love with him, and she told me I should take it for you, Mom.

Well this week went very well for us! We had a really motivating and encouraging zone conference on Tuesday, and right afterward, we came home and set a baptism date with this hispanic guy named John. He is a very sincere and nice guy, around 18 years old, but he is really hard to stay in touch with. Hopefully we can see him more this week, so that he can make his date. The next day, we visited the part-member Laotion/Hmong family I have written about before, and two of the girls (Nicole and Angel) commited to be baptized as well on the 13th! They are really excited to receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost. Their older sister, Hope, told us that she also wanted to be baptized with them when we were over two days later! And their father, Sang Thong, said that after he sees his girls be baptized and as he learns more, he will also do the same.

So, we are really excited about the work here! Please continue to pray for our success and that we will continue to have faith that all will go work out well. And pray for Cole, Angel, Nicole, Hope, and John. Thank you so much!Talk to you next week.

Love,
Elder Vogan

Ps. Today for P-day we are going up to Green Bay to tour Lambeau Stadium with everyone in our zone! It should be a lot of fun.

Monday, January 25, 2010

NEW COMP-ELDER LESTER, NEW MEMBER-SISTER SMOTHERMAN

Mon 1/25/10 12:46 PM
It was good to get a couple more emails this week than usual! Thanks Hannah and Whitney! Those pictures of pretty lady Megan were really cute!

Congrats on the success with the diet, Mom and Dad! I am glad to hear that it worked well for you. The oranges are perfect and delicious! Thank you! And I am glad to hear Dad's seminars are going better as well!

My new companion, Elder Lester, is a stud missionary! He definitely lives up to the hype, haha. I have already learned so much from him, and we get along really well. He grew up in South Carolina in a part-member family. He and his mom are the only active members. He has only been out for 3 months, but he seems like he could be ready to go home. I am excited to see how much success we will have together!

That's good that you got Sister Wilson's email. The Wilsons are awesome! So the story of our "secret" baptism... (It probably won't have the same impact it had for us, since you guys thought she would be baptized the whole time, but it's still cool) : So, Tuesday afternoon, we had Sister Smotherman's interview, and she was solid and ready to go until the very end when she denied to her daughter that she was getting baptized on Saturday. We were really confused and thought she might just not have wanted to have her daughter there or something. So, that night and the next day we tried to call and get that straight that it was going to be on Saturday (because that is why our district leader came all the way down from Green Bay to interview her that week). They didn't answer, so I was getting pretty anxious about it. Finally, Brother Smotherman called and said that because of his recent knee surgery, the doctor didn't want him to get his knee wet or put any weight on it, so they chose to push the date. And they decided that Feb. 20th would be good. I said, "Wow, a whole month out?" And it was their choice, so that was the decision.

So we went throughout the rest of the week, until Sunday afternoon at 4:30, thinking that she was not going to be baptized until (at least) the 20th of February. We had lunch after church with Bishop Jones and his family and talked a little bit about what was going on with Sister Smotherman, and Bishop said he wanted to come with us to our next visit with her. When he drove us back to our car, which was at the church, I asked him if he wanted to go visit them only with us, or if he would go without us first. And he said, "Ya know, maybe I'll just stop by right now." So, two hours later we got a message from him that said, "Call me back as soon as possible... Meet me at the church at 7:30 tonight. Sister Smotherman is going to be baptized tonight... Don't tell anyone this is happening. I repeat, don't tell anyone... until then just pray that everything works out smoothly. And afterwards you can go back to your apartment and shout for joy." So we got that message and were like, "Holy man, I can't believe it". But we couldn't say anything around our dinner hosts, so we just kept it inside till we got in the car to leave. We found out from Bishop that the real reason for postponing the date was anxiety and not wanting to be the center of attention or in front of large groups. (we kinda knew that already though) So, it happened! with us, Bishop and Sister Jones and their youngest daughter, and the Smothermans with their son, Dillon. And we went to the Wilson's to celebrate. (Bishop told us that it wasn't as big of a deal about telling people after the babtism).

So, I hope you felt some of the rollercoaster we felt from this story. I hope you all have a wonderful week!

Love, Elder Vogan

Monday, January 18, 2010

BAPTISM SCHEDULED FOR SATURDAY

Mon 1/18/10 12:13 PM
Hey family! Another pretty good week has past fast. Yes, I am for sure staying in Two Rivers, Manitowoc, and Chilton for at least one more transfer. Elder Roberts will be leaving on Thursday, and from a sneak-peak email from President Barrett, he found out that he gets to go to Madison - which is where he has been wanting to serve his entire mission. I would love to serve there as well. So yeah, you can send the package directly to Two Rivers. Thank you!

Other than transfers, our biggest excitement is Sister Smotherman's baptism this Saturday! She doesn't want it to be big at all; she isn't comfortable in front of crowds. But nevertheless, it will be awesome! We will have her program put together really soon, and our district leader, Elder Eastman, will be coming down tomorrow to interview her! Thank you for your prayers, and please continue those!

Nate hasn't made any progress at all since before I spoke to you on Christmas. In fact, we actually haven't seen him since at a week and a half ago... I thought I'd update you on that though, since I know you knew about him.

Other than that, all that I can think that is worth sharing is that we have a few more 'future new members' that we are trying diligently to work with: Cole, Jessica, and Sister Li's family - Sang Thong, Nicole, Hope, and Angel. If President is right with what he told me in my email today, my new campanion and I will work together well and be able to help these people and others to progress well and help them make that choice to be baptized and have all the joy that comes from that.

Love you! Have a great week! Hope your voice gets better, Dad!

Elder Vogan

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

OFF TO A GREAT START IN 2010

Mon 1/11/10 9:54 AM
Hello! Yeah, when I heard about the Cardinals and Packers playing, I had to represent the Cardinals. It was actually a good topic starter, so that I could tell them I was from AZ and here on a mission. Luckily, no one that we went to had the game on yesterday or I might have been tempted to watch some of it! Yeah, it is crazy to hear that Elder Kent will been home so soon! I bet his family is really excited, huh?

Our Ward mission leader actually told us that he is giving us his home gym on Wednesday night! It is a legit home gym with everything I could need, and we are helping him bring it over in a couple days - i am way excited! I guess they decided to buy a Bowflex, so they don't need the other one anymore.

Well this past week was really really good: 36 lessons taught, found 8 new investigators, and set one more baptism date with a girl named Jessica! Grandma told me that more success would flow after the holidays, and that was definitely true! Sister Louise Smotherman is still on track for baptism on the 23rd, but please keep her in your prayers. This will be the first baptism in more than a year for both of our areas here.

Thank you for your love and prayers. I miss you!

Love,

Elder Vogan

EXTREME MISSIONARY RESOLUTIONS

Mon 1/04/10 10:17 AM
Thank you for your email this week! I really liked hearing about the updates from my friends back home. It sounds like things will be completely different when I come home, hearing about how much things have already changed in the little time I’ve been out. If you get a chance, tell Breann and Andrea “Congratulations!” from me. And yeah, I am really excited to be an uncle too! It will be awesome to come home and meet my new little 9 month old niece or nephew! Good luck with the new diet! I am really interested in hearing about how that goes for you guys. And I am excited for the oranges to come as well!

So the most exciting thing for me that we did this past week was set some awesome, extreme missionary resolutions. I’ve always liked setting goals, and these are even better than goals. We are treating it almost like a covenant, so that we “have to” do it. We basically did what missionaries are supposed to do with setting weekly goals for lessons that we will teach, people that we will set baptism dates with, etc., but on top of that, we set “minimums” for what we have to do each day or week in order to push us to always be working well and effectively. And things like baptisms and baptism dates are not under our control for the most part, but the things we do have control over, we have committed to improve. This will be awesome to see things pick up out here after our increased efforts.

We did set another baptism date on Saturday with this 11 year-old kid named Cole. He is part of a less-active family, but they are really encouraging him to make the choice to be baptized. The only thing is with him, though, is that we aren’t going to baptize someone into inactivity. The whole family would need to commit to come back to church and be active, or else Cole would need to commit to coming and have some other members pick him up and bring him to church.

Nate is still where he was when I last talked to you about him. We have been able to go over and teach him, but no progress has been made yet. Louise Smotherman is still on track to be baptized on January 23rd, and we will be meeting with her this evening to make sure everything is still going well and encourage her.

So that is pretty much the main news for this week. The holidays were fun, but I’m glad they are over, so now we can get back to doing effective missionary work, and I can lose the weight I have put on. (I have actually already lost 4.5 lbs since Friday, so that’s great.) I love you very much, and I hope you have a happy and successful week!

Elder Vogan

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Mon 12/28/09 9:30 AM
It was great to talk to everyone and hear that everyone is doing well! I had a fun Christmas out here. I am excited about Whitney's 'baby alive'! Haha, that really was a surprise!

Well the warm weather was gone the day after I talked to you, and it has snowed a pretty good amount since then. We were in the Chilton area all day long, so we were planning on coming home to a big load to shovel. But cool enough, a young couple who live next door to us were already working on it for us! They said they had shoveled both of our driveways twice already during the day. They were really nice to do that for us. And we finished helping them with what was left.

Well that was only a few days ago that I spoke to you, so not too much has happened in that time. The coolest thing was that we were able to teach Emily Kufner's parents again on Saturday evening. She is the girl who recently was baptized down in Texas, and she is having us teach her parents, Tom and Pat. *You told me on the phone that you pray for the people that we teach, so please include Tom and Pat Kufner in those prayers - That they will take the things we teach to heart and have the sincere desire to know if it's true. Emily doesn't want anything more in life than for her family to accept the gospel as well.*

Well thank you again for the Christmas presents this year! I love everything. I hope you all have a great rest of your winter "break"!

Love,

Elder Vogan

MERRY CHRISTMAS--MAY WE FOLLOW 'THE SHEPHERD' & WORSHIP 'THE KING'

Mon 12/21/09 10:38 AM
Thank you for the Christmas presents! We were able to light up a third of our front window with those lights, and next to our tree it looks pretty good, haha. I only opened the fudge, the photo album, and whatever wasn’t wrapped. So, I’ll have some other presents to open on Christmas morning. Yeah, I do get to call you! I don’t want to call too early because I don’t want to make you miss the annual Christmas breakfast. So, I’ll plan on calling between noon and 1 pm Wisconsin time. Hopefully that will be good for you. If not, I will try some cell phones.

Our zone conference on Wednesday went really well and was really uplifting. The rest of our week went pretty well. We had exchanges Wednesday night to Thursday night, and I was with Elder Sharrah spending time up in Green Bay. He is a Spanish missionary, so I had a chance to brush up on my espanol. It was fun, and we had some really cool appointments. We also spent some time on UWGB’s campus with the sister missionaries and some other elders from Green Bay letting people know about the LDSSA institute group and handing out hot chocolate and cookies. That was a lot of fun. On Saturday night, we went caroling with some members of the Chilton branch and handed out copies of Mister Kruger’s Christmas. That was a fun experience, even though we weren’t out too long doing it. It felt like straight out of a Christmas movie, walking in snow while it’s snowing on our heads and singing to people. Afterward, we went back to our (former) branch mission leader’s house and ate cookies and drank hot cocoa. We just got a brand new branch mission leader on Sunday, and he will do a good job, so we are excited.

Well something I learned at zone conference I will finish by telling you. Isn’t it interesting that shepherds in their fields were told about the birth of the Son of God, who would be The Great Shepherd. And isn’t it also interesting that great kings from the East would travel great distances to present gifts to the baby who would be the greatest of all, the King of Kings. As we celebrate this Christmas season, let us follow our Shepherd and worship our King!

Merry Christmas,

Elder Vogan