Saturday, March 21, 2015

Success (MTC Week #3)

I'll have to start explaining just what Elder Hess is saying in his emails because they're mostly in response to the email I've sent him. Here goes….

This week was really good. Taught some good lessons. I don't bless the sacrament or any of those things (We had heard that this is one of the Zone Leader's responsibilities in the MTC, so we asked him. I guess it's not). I just basically make sure the districts are getting along and I pass along concerns to the branch pres. Spanish is comin along good. 

Success depends on where you're looking. I think we're successful everyday. (I told him that we pray for his success every day. I asked him if he felt that he was being successful. This is a good answer, don'cha think?) It's like the Spirit here. You feel it all the time but sometimes you feel it stronger than others. 

Letters take forever to get here. I don't think there's much else to do...I'm kept pretty busy with replying to emails. If they want to email me first I'll respond but I don't know. (I don't have a clue what this is in response to.)

Boxes of love are great. Honestly one Elder got his only letter today. I think he could use some love. We all could honestly. (I asked if there are other missionaries that might need some things in a package.)

Good job on the garage! I love the pictures! Good job Aedan! (Each week, I send him the "pictures of the week." This is how I come up with material to write about--I caption all of the photos)

Let's be honest mom.. I didn't do anything with my braces…(I asked for advice on my new braces. Well…if nothing else, he's honest.)  Tidwell's doing great. Browning and her comp, are probably the best all around out of all of us. 

Both blankets would be sweet. (Preparing what to send to the mission….They've asked that the missionaries' bedding--pillow, blankets, sheets, etc. arrive ten days before the missionaries get to the mission. He has a blanket he received for Christmas that is WAY too heavy for Texas, but he wants it anyway, I guess).
The only real challenge is fighting the boredom of the same day all the time. (Sitting in a classroom at a desk for hours a day for six weeks does get a bit stale, but it's all good. Most missionaries leave the MTC with a basic grasp of the language their learning, so I guess it's all worth it). But things are going good.

Elder Hess

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Zone Leader (MTC Week #2)

So I'm zone leader now which basically means I lead the new district on a tour on Wednesday. Our other district left this morning which was tough. My Elders are Elder A. (my comp from American Fork), Elder P. (Salem Utah), Elder An. (Utah) and H. (Idaho). Everyone but Elder P. and Tristin are going to McAllen. The Sisters are T. (Idaho to McAllen), W. (Utah to Atlanta), Browning (Washington to Virginia) and M (Utah to Arkansas). Thanks so much for the package I got it today! I haven't got any letters or anything since you guys dear eldered last... the food is very iffy. Nothing is as good as home food...wish Dad happy birthday for me! 

I love L's shoes! They're ridiculous. I hope Y. will take more lessons. My favorite person has been Tidwell again. He keeps everyone laughing and from getting stressed. My teachers are Rowley and Meek and Clark. Clark pretended to be an investigator for the first week so we just barely started with him. But they're all really spiritual and helpful. We do TRC twice a week which is like teaching an actual investigator. Our investigator, Gabriel, is known as the hardest one to teach... Our first lesson was awful. We didn't understand a word he said and it was super uncomfortable. We prayed super hard all day for the next lesson and it was so good! We taught the word of wisdom and he told us a great story about how when he was 11 he started smoking and stopped when he was 17 and kept out of peer pressure from his friends. It was amazing. The spirit helps out so much. I feel like my mission has already changed me. Before, there would be no way I to teach a whole spanish lesson. But 2 weeks in and I'm already doing it. It's amazing.

Love you guys,
Elder Hess

P.S. Will you send some shorts, shirts and jeans too...My civvies get dirty quick

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Travel Buddies

Tomorrow is P-day #2. I'm so looking forward to hearing from our boy!

We received two hand-written letters this week, and he has asked for stamps, so that must mean that more are on their way. Yeehaw!

I sent him a package and a photo book this week.

After I sent the package, which had regular liberty bell stamps in it, I ran across Batman stamps, so those will be heading his way soon….

He's gonna love 'em!

Before tomorrow's email arrives, I wanted to share a little something more about his experience so far from my perspective.

Gannon flew out early on the morning of February 25th. As I've explained before, there were at least three missionaries flying out on that same plane--all from the Pacific Northwest. All were reporting on that same day, along with hundreds of other missionaries from all over the world. I know of at least one who lives within the boundaries of the Philippines Olongapo Mission (where our daughter served her mission); he will be serving in California.

Anyway, we obviously knew that Gannon and his friend, Tristin, were flying out on that same day. They would be sitting across the aisle from each other on the plane.

When Gannon first got his call, I joined the Texas McAllen Mission page on Facebook. I immediately became acquainted with Sister Browning's mom. Sister Browning, who will be serving in Virginia, is from Vancouver, Washington, but her brother is serving in the McAllen Mission.

Sister Browning's mom, as we were discussing our kids' travel plans, asked me if we'd made arrangements for the shuttle to pick Gannon up and deliver him to the MTC once he'd arrived in Salt Lake.

I mentioned to her that our daughter would be picking Gannon and Tristin up. I asked her if they'd already made arrangements like that or if she'd like to have our daughter pick Sister Browning up too.

That was decided…..I'm sorry that I'm rehashing past details, but what happens later is so remarkable to me.

When missionaries arrive, they check into the MTC according to their last names….Sister Browning would check in first, then Elder Hess, and finally Elder Tidwell.

No one knew that these three even knew each other. With all the members of the Church in our area, it can be assumed, actually, that these three wouldn't know each other at all.

I don't know why I asked, but prior to that first P-day, last week, I contacted Tristin's mom and asked for his mailing address….It was the same as Gannon's….Strange! 

Well, maybe all missionaries going to Texas have the same address. That could be, right?

Then on P-day, sure enough, Gannon verified that he and Tristin were together. Wow! What a funny coincidence. Well….It gets better….

Pictures showed up, and I didn't even catch on until Sister Browning's mom shared a photo and some words in the McAllen group--remember, her son is serving there….

Not only is Tristin in his MTC district (a group of between 8 and 10 missionaries, out of hundreds), but there is SISTER BROWNING!

Sister Browning, Elder Hess, Elder Ault (in the back), Brother Cobb, and Elder Tidwell

All three kids that traveled together ended up together in the VERY same district and will be together for the entire six weeks.

How strange that we should coordinate travel plans!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Monday is P-Day (MTC Week #1)

You know when you're waiting for something and then you stop waiting because you think it's not going to happen, and that's exactly when it DOES happen? Well, that was yesterday….

I'd been out running around most of the day. Knowing that temples are closed on Mondays, I was almost positive that Gannon's P-Day wouldn't be on Monday because that's one thing missionaries in the MTC do on P-Days--go to the temple. If it's closed, no P-day, right?….Wrong!

I signed on at about 5:00pm, and sure enough…there was his email. Not just an email, but pictures to boot! NO WAY! This is my son?

I gave him a camera for Christmas. It stayed in the box until…well…actually, I'm not sure when it came out of the box, but it must have at some point within the last week. YAY!

There are some crazy things that I've learned. I'm starting to wonder if that's what this young man's mission is going to be all about--crazy things. So far everything I've written about this experience has had some interesting coincidence tied to it….Today's is no different.

Well, I'll let him tell you part of it, and I'll fill in the blanks (maybe in another post)…..

Oh, one other preface….I made Gannon promise two things when he left. First, that he'd take at least one photo a week for me, and second, that he'd answer the questions I sent him. There are eight of them. You can see the questions by clicking here (the answers are most of the body of this email). So glad to see he's started out on the right foot. I'm hoping this continues.

Area: Provo MTC
Companion: Elder Ault
Monday, March 2, 2015


Me and Elder Tidwell are in the same district and are rooming together and sleep right next to each other. He's been my favorite this week. He's been such a blessing with lightening the mood and relaxing the stress. 

My comp is Elder Ault from American Fork, Utah. He's a good guy. Really good testimony. 

So far we've taught two lessons in Spanish and that was the biggest challenge. No real concerns though. 

My district is suuuper tight and we get along almost perfectly. 

I ran into Sister Coughanour actually! I'll try to put a picture in of it. I have a bunch of all of us. 

I'm looking forward to the two different lessons we have tomorrow. It'll be real challenging. 

D&C 123:17 I think is what my favorite if i got the reference right. It's about doing all you can cheerfully and letting the lord do the rest. 

It's interesting having such a strict schedule but is really good. I have 2 four hour classes each day besides Sunday usually. 

Yeah I played basketball just an hour ago today. I dont even know when I eat….I dont really pay attention to that I just go whenever.

Get the kids to write! How are they all? I loved the picture of L in the shades. 

I hope you get my letter. Can you send some stamps and a towel? Drying myself off with a sweater sucks...and stamps are expensive. If not a towel, send just the stamps. I can dry with those.

Love you guys,
Elder Hess

Elder Hess and Elder Ault

"Oregon tree"

Must mean Elder Hess also has a top bunk--just like when he was a kid. 

Elder Tidwell doing what he excels at…."Lightening the mood"

My favorite--Elder Tidwell's buff!

With Elder Ault and Sister Coughanour (from home) with her comp.

I'm guessing this is the zone….Gotta work on Elder Hess's captioning skills. 

Elder Hess and Elder Tidwell

No, boys….NO DUCK LIPS!

'Nuf said

Sunday, March 1, 2015

God's Timing

Gannon and I have never met eye to eye on the timing of things….I want it done yesterday, and he's okay with getting around to it tomorrow. There's absolutely nothing wrong with his way of doing things. He still gets it done; it's just that I happen to be a bit of a spazz.

The original plan was for Gannon to go out on his mission in August after he graduated from high school. Even though he didn't have the money saved up to go, I was good with it. We would pay, and he would go. He insisted that he pay his portion as his sister had, so he got a job and worked hard everyday.

He finally met the goal in September, so he finished filling out his mission papers and turned them in. I was thrilled!

At that time, he was acting as assistant coach for a co-ed high school soccer team--a team he'd played
with the year before. Now, his younger brother and sister were playing on the team.

The evening after his papers were turned in, he was at practice. I was at his younger brother's soccer practice and received a phone call from Gannon saying that I would need to take him to the hospital--he'd hurt his ankle. I was sure it was just a sprain--he'd done that before, so I told him to go home, elevate, and ice.

When I got home and pulled into the driveway, there he was….Still sitting in the driver's seat of the car. He'd been waiting for me. He couldn't get out of the car. He couldn't walk.

I can't remember how we ended up in the same car….I believe I half lifted him, and he hopped on one leg into the Suburban, and we headed off to urgent care.

We learned that he'd broken his leg. They told us that it was a typical break. They put him in a splint. They told us that we'd just have to take him in for a cast the following Wednesday. We made the appointment and left.

On Tuesday, he had his interview with our Bishop. Everything was on board, but the Bishop asked that we get clearance from the doctors for the papers to continue….Until we had their word that he wouldn't need physical therapy or some other form of treatment after the cast was off, he couldn't continue.


On Wednesday, we went to the hospital to get his cast on. Gannon woke up about 13 minutes before the appointment. He threw his clothes on and we hopped him into the car. We set of for the hospital and only waited a moment before they took us back to the casting room. I'm afraid my wheelchair driving skills will go down in infamy from this one morning's journey….UGH!

One of the doctors came in, greeted us, pulled up the x-ray on the computer screen, and focused in closely to the break. He explained that if he'd been an older guy, they'd just cast it up and let it heal. But, because Gannon's young and has a lot of years ahead….He asked Gannon if he'd had lunch that morning. Rather sheepishly, Gannon replied, "No."

The doctor, who ended up being the head of orthopedic surgery at this hospital, continued with, "Well, good because I have an opening at 2:00 this afternoon." They were going to set the bone right and get it back into place with a plate and some screws.

Everything went exactly as planned.

Gannon was laid up on the couch in our family room for six weeks. After that, he was in a boot for the next couple--haha! Yah, right--I mean days. He was supposed to have the boot on for a few weeks, but it drove him crazy and was very painful on his heel, so he was in it on and off for that length of time.

I have no idea why Gannon was delayed like this, but I will tell you one thing….After his cast was off and he was up and about again, he was amazingly compassionate toward me. I think from the vantage point of that couch, he watched the comings and goings of our house like he'd never seen them before. He must have had an alarm set on his phone for the time when the kids got out of school because most days, he beat me to the door to run off and pick them up. Anything I asked, he was Johnny-on-the-spot.

His papers went in, and although he no longer had a job, his money had been earned, and I was allowed some extra time with my son before he left our home for two years, and that was pretty darned SWEET!