Archives for January 2010

Missionary Dan Email #14 from Choibalsan, Mongolia

Thanks for the great emails, not much to write about this week. Enjoy the little movie clip of my investigator’s son. He is saying, “Hey Kobe, what’s up?!” I think it’s great, but it was my companion’s idea.

Transfer calls came and I’m staying here with my companion Elder Od Bayar. That made me happy. I like this, being in Choibalsan. We had a normal work week with the normal meeting with people and teaching lessons. Right now we have some good investigators progressing towards baptism.

My English class was fun teaching again. I teach another English class at the church. Nothing too exciting. My companion does whatever he feels like during English.

So it is really surprising that January is already over. Time in the countryside goes by much faster and is a whole lot calmer and peaceful. In February everyone starts preparing for Tsagaan Sar and gets really busy.

During the holiday we just do our best to support the members as most other people are celebrating with family etc. It is kind of like their Christmas. This year I think lots of members will invite us over to their houses. So I’d better start preparing to eat a lot. Each house always has tons of Buuz and they make you each until you’re full like Thanksgiving dinner. Then the same day you go to another house and eat the same amount all over again. We’ll probably go to three or four houses a day for the week. I’m not really sure, but it’ll be fun.

My companion says that it is true that this is the coldest winter in Mongolia. Doesn’t really seem that cold, but when there is wind it is freezing.

The picture below with all the youth is from a question and answer competition they had. They asked questions about church doctrine and things. The winners were recently baptized members (within the last month), and another who had been a member a little over a year. Thats cool.

LDS youth in Choibalsan

LDS youth in Choibalsan, Mongolia

Love, Elder Willoughby.

Presented have been portions of an email from Elder Daniel Willoughby serving in the Mongolia Ulaanbaatar Mission. If anyone wishes to send Daniel a message, write it in the comments and I will make sure he receives it.
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Missionary Dan Email #13 from Choibalsan, Mongolia

Mongolian children

Mongolian children Daniel recently visited

This week was a busy week with my companion and I running between some lessons to get there in time. We also worked with the branch missionaries to come with us so we could teach more at the same time. We have wonderful branch missionaries here that are willing to come with us almost every day.

This week I started teaching at a new location. It is called The Extra Ordinary Peoples or something like that. The name is really fitting for who they were. I think their job is fire fighting. I came in and they were all rushing around saying, the teacher is here! When they all filed in I asked them what they knew.

Basically nothing besides, my name is…, hi, OK. So they asked me to start with the ABCs. So I taught the song and we sang it a lot. It was so funny.

After singing five or six times I said, “Good.” Wrote it on the board etc… They all started freaking out, trying to say it. What? What’d he say? What’s it mean… Then I’d say it again and they try and try and try. Then after trying for awhile they would want me to say it again, so they would start yelling at each other to be quiet so they could hear me. Ha ha. I really respect their effort. After that I taught them how to count to ten. He he. So that was a highlight of my week.

Transfers are this week. I am sure my companion and I are staying here. I got a couple of texts from a friend of the lady who translated my companion’s letter. That was neat. They just say Hi etc… So no pictures this week, I didn’t really take any good ones. It is starting to warm up a bit to about -20 degrees C.

Thanks for all the support.
Love Elder Willoughby.

Presented have been portions of an email from Elder Daniel Willoughby serving in the Mongolia Ulaanbaatar Mission. If anyone wishes to send Daniel a message, write it in the comments and I will make sure he receives it.
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Caption Competition #3

Steven and Adelaide eating corn
There are a lot of possibilities for funny captions whenever there is a photograph of Steven. Here Steven is at his parents’ home for Sunday dinner with his wife Adelaide. Submit your captions and I will update this post with the winning lines.

Jill holding sweetearts

First prize are Sweetheart Cookies, beautiful model not included

The first prize (Kaysville and environs only) was going to be a big bar of Hershey’s chocolate. But that got ate. Jill came up with a one pound bag of Stauffer’s Sweethearts Cookies as the prize. Just in time for Valentines Day.

Caption Competition #2 Winners

As judges, mine and Jill’s captions were excluded from the competiton. Thank you all for the funny captions.

The first place winner, Ken, I do believe is not local so the prize passes to the second place caption. However, Derek, who lives in Texas is not local either so the prize goes to the third place entry. And Darrell is definitely local — he lives in the same ward as I do.

First — “Grandad, I don’t want to frighten you but there’s a Giant Shredded Wheat right behind you.” Ken
Second — “You stole the Thin Mints?!” Derek
Third — “Grandpa, I can’t believe how bad our outfits clash!” Darrell
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Senate Western Caucus Announced by Bennett and Hatch

To preserve posts from a blog I closed down I have ported them to Rickety. I haven’t heard anything more of the Senate Western Caucus since the announcement last June.

In the following video, Senator Barrasso (R-WY) speaks first, followed by Congressman Bishop (R-UT), Senator Bennett (R-UT), Senator Risch (R-ID), and Senator Hatch (R-UT).

Utah Senators Bob Bennett and Orrin Hatch were among 11 Republican Senators from western states who announced a new Western Caucus Wednesday. One of the aims of the Senate Western Caucus is to thwart the anti-oil agenda of the Washington elite and their extreme environmentalist allies, while at the same time promoting alternative energy. Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming has been named the first chairman of the newly formed Caucus. Hatch said:

Orrin Hatch

As one of the senators who initiated the first sagebrush rebellion in the ’70s, I recall that debate being largely about land use questions. The impact of that battle was felt mostly by Westerners. But the anti-oil agenda being pursued by the current administration and congressional leadership, will impact every American in higher gas prices, higher energy prices and higher food prices.

We call ourselves the Senate Western Caucus because we represent good western values and we need to underscore the common beliefs Utahns share with our neighbors. However, we’re really fighting for all Americans who pump gas into their car, turn on the lights at home, or want to feed their children healthy, affordable meals. That’s really what our agenda comes down to.

Although the Senate Western Caucus is founded today with a discussion of energy issues, that is just the beginning. The values held by citizens in the West are applicable to more than our nation’s energy debate and the caucus will be rolling out several western initiatives over the coming weeks and months that will present common sense solutions to a whole host of problems currently facing our country.

The caucus, made up of conservatives from eight states, will advocate for less government control over lands and resources in the open spaces of the Western U.S., starting with proposals for legislation that would open the outer continental shelf and Arctic Wildlife National Refuge for oil and gas exploration. Members of the Senate Western Caucus used Wednesday’s launch to introduce a comprehensive energy bill. The bill aims to protect our natural resources, while developing a sound energy policy that uses all American sources. The Clean, Affordable, Reliable Energy Act (CARE) was introduced to take advantage of all American resources — from wind and solar to nuclear and clean coal to oil and gas.

Bennett said:

As we see our gas prices start to rise again, we are reminded that energy security must continue to be a top priority. The West is well-positioned to be a leader in energy development, and I will work with my colleagues on the caucus to hold the administration accountable on its promise to produce more energy at home.

Senate Western Caucus Membership

Senator John Barrasso (R-WY)
Senator Bob Bennett (R-UT)
Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID)
Senator John Ensign (R-NV)
Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY)
Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ)
Senator Mike Johanns (R-NE)
Senator Jim Risch (R-ID)
Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS)
Senator David Vitter (R-LA)
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West Bountiful City Independence Day Parade

To preserve posts from a blog I closed down I have ported them to Rickety. So please enjoy a 4th July parade in January.

US and Utah Flags

Displaying the U.S. and Utah flags at the West Bountiful City Independence Parade

Last year I went with family to watch the West Bountiful City Independence Parade. The theme was Our Heritage Past and Present. There were 60 entries but it didn’t take very long for the parade to pass by. It was cold enough in the shade that my wife and brother-in-law moved out of the shade and into the sun. Last year I posted photographs but this year I will show you a sampling of the parade in video. The nine videos run an average of 12 seconds each.

ClearPlay, Movies, and the Academy Awards

Originally published Feb 21, 2009.
ClearPlay Logo
Since the first ClearPlay DVD player became available over five years ago I have enjoyed watching movies with my family. ClearPlay is a special DVD player that enables your family to enjoy all of the great Hollywood movies you’ve always wanted to watch — without all of the junk you don’t want.

By using custom ClearPlay filters the ClearPlay DVD player seamlessly skips and mutes content based on 12 categories that you can set. ClearPlay works with thousands of movies and new filters are generally made available the same day as new releases.

Brian Fuller of ClearPlay recently made these observations about the Academy Awards:

  • Of the five movies nominated for best picture, four are rated R and one is rated PG-13.
  • The average gross box office of the five movies was 50 million, skewed high by the sole PG-13 movie, Benjamin Button, which grossed nearly 123 million.
  • Rated R movies accounted for 50%(!) of the rated movies released last year, but only accounted for 22% of the total box office revenue.
  • Only 14% of the rated movies released in 2008 were G or PG, but they accounted for 23% of the total box office.
  • PG-13 movies accounted for a whopping 55% of the total box office gross and were 36% of the movies released.

Brian further observes:

But despite the overwhelming success of non-rated R movies, Hollywood still makes as many rated-R movies as it does all three of the other ratings combined!

He writes that from a purely business perspective studios should shift resources to make more family friendly fare. Then he asks, “So why don’t they?”

One factor is a values gap: those within the industry simply don’t share the same values, perspectives, and goals as the movie going public. The statistics demonstrate that we want more quality, clean entertainment, while some directors and studios may want to generate buzz by pushing boundaries, seeking for prestige among their peers, or releasing films that reflect their own morals and interests.

I have used ClearPlay since the beginning when Hollywood was trying hard to shut ClearPlay down. When Congress passed the Family Movie Act of 2005, ClearPlay was dropped from Studio lawsuits. If you haven’t tried ClearPlay, check out what they have to offer and regain control of what you see (and don’t want to see) in a movie.

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Mongolian Moments #11

Mongolian Moments #11

The percentage Mongolian church membership I used in the cartoon was based on a LDS membership of 7,721 at the end of 2007. According to LDS Newsroom the membership is now 8,444. The site does not indicate what year these numbers were tallied. There is one mission, two family history centers, and 21 congregations including one recently formed stake.

Click on comic strip for larger image. Created using Strip Generator. See all the comics on the Comics Page.
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Missionary Dan Email #12 from Choibalsan, Mongolia

Daniel with frozen eyelashesThis week wasn’t quite the adventure week like last one. We did get some good experiences though. I got a snap shot of my frozen eye lash. It really isn’t as cold as it looks like. Well maybe it is, I can’t tell because my body has adjusted to the cold.

I enjoyed reading Jake’s journal entry article. I’ve kept a steady journal since I turned 16 years old. In that time I’ve probably only missed a couple of months and that is it. Going back when I was 18 or so and reading those entries was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. I am sure I’ll love it even more as time goes on. I remember the ones I enjoyed the most were the times when I recorded what I was thinking and feeling. Also my third grade teacher had us write a journal daily too as well throughout the school year. That worn out journal is more precious than gold could ever be. Reading from that allowed me to recall memories and feelings that I had when I was nine years old. Truly a great experience. It’s not always easy to keep a daily journal and at the time it seems completely pointless, but as time goes on anything you’ve written becomes a treasure of your own.

This week was a normal week for working. We had some great experiences as well. I can say it was my first real time translating from English to Mongolian. I translate all the time from Mongolian to English, but rarely the other way around. The couple missionaries needed a translator for institute. I don’t think I did very well, but the spirit was strong in the class nonetheless. As long as we’re thinking about translating, I might as well say I translated for my first time in sign language too. On Saturday the other missionaries gave me the chance to translate for the deaf people. Sometimes I did alright and translated well and other times I was completely lost and did horrible. It was really fun and they thanked me for my efforts in trying to learn. I enjoy learning sign language — it also is helping me to progress in Mongolian as well.

Daniel ready to baptize

Daniel ready to baptize Ounbelick on 2 January. From the ...Couple Things... blog.

Some of our new investigators are coming along as well. Most of them are in families that already have a family member that is a church member. It makes it a lot easier for them to attend church and keep commitments when they have that support system. In one lesson something really funny happened. First a little background information. All Mongolians think that Americans and most foreigners have big noses. Mainly because we do have big noses compared to theirs. So in our lesson a three year old started picking her nose. Her mom said, “Don’t do that, it’ll make your nose bigger.” Then her 6 year old brother said pointing to me, “Yeah like his.” Ha ha. I should probably stop pickin’ my nose eh?

My companion and I were also determined this week to find new investigators again to increase our work and get some baptisms. So on Friday we contacted every referral. It had good success and six of them said they could meet us on Saturday. We were really excited so Saturday morning we packed up six Books of Mormon and set out early to go teach them. The first lesson was a let down and then we called the next two only to find out one went to the countryside and the other had work come up. So we decided to go straight to the next referral without calling and trap him into a lesson. It turns out he gave us the wrong address. So our last hope was down to two referrals. One wasn’t home and the other was, as his family said, was slightly crazy and that we shouldn’t come back anymore. So instead of getting six new investigators we ended up with none.

But on the bright side one investigator that before was really busy came to church. He said that as seeing his dad become a member and seeing the marvelous change in him inspired him to want to be better. He said that he is going to stop working on Sunday and start coming to church. His dad is one of the most inspiring people to watch. He is 60 years old with one leg that is bad. So he walks with crutches to get to church. It probably takes him around 40 minutes to get to church and I know its not easy for him. Not only does he go to church faithfully, but he also sits in institute on Saturdays. He is one of the greatest examples to me of sacrificing to get to church and he increases daily in his gospel knowledge. Not bad for an old man.

Well that sums up my week. I know the work I am doing is the work of God and that He truly loves all of His children.

Love Elder Willoughby.

Baptism Photo Credit: …Couple Things…

Presented have been portions of an email from Elder Daniel Willoughby serving in the Mongolia Ulaanbaatar Mission. If anyone wishes to send Daniel a message, write it in the comments and I will make sure he receives it.
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Four Simple Ideas For Keeping A Daily Journal

Jake with JournalThough I keep a journal now, it has not always been a part of my life. I always thought of journal writing as something that is done for my children, or grandchildren. Planning on writing for these future generations, I systematically rationalized myself out of writing in my journal thinking that the events in my life were too trivial to write to about.

My journal consisted of an entry once every few months, but sometimes going years between writing. One day on my mission I read an old Ensign article about the anniversary of Wilford Woodruff’s birth. President Woodruff is known in part for his journal writing, so there were several quotes in the article about journals. One impacted me deeply, encouraging children to start keeping journals early in their lives. He said:

“If my young friends will begin to do this and continue it, it will be of far more worth than gold to them in a future day.” (Journals: “Of Far More Worth than Gold”, Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Wilford Woodruff, 132)

Knowing gold to be of great value, I knew that to truly be rich in my life I must keep a journal.

Even though I felt then that I must keep a daily journal, it took almost a year to be able to get into the habit. Earlier attempts to write in my journal daily always failed — usually ending up with me becoming discouraged. The rule that enabled me to keep a journal is this: Keep it Simple. Every time I didn’t want to write in my journal it was usually because I would write too much, or I thought too deeply, or I thought nothing of importance had happened that day.

The Solution?

These four ideas will enable you to keep a daily journal:

  1. Keep it short and simple.
    Two or three sentences is a good journal entry. Write more when you feel the need. Also, don’t feel daunted by playing catch up on your entire life between entires — just fill in the details when the background is needed.
  2. Write what you did each day.
    Things that are common I usually mention in a single sentence: “School, work, watched a movie with my family.”
  3. Write what you feel.
    I often also offer any feelings I might have about my life, the events that transpired that day, and especially gratitude for blessings received.
  4. Make the choice.
    About I year ago I decided I would always write something — even if I got home late or thought I didn’t have anything to say. I often found I had more to say once I started writing.

Even with short entries, I have already noticed the value of my journal. Often at nights after writing I will flip back through the entries investigating how I came to feel as I did. I can easily recognize what I did before to resolve it. Especially, I have seen the strength I have received from following other gospel principles such as when I made an extra effort to go to the temple, or a day that I was especially grateful for other people in my life. Reading my journal revives the feelings felt that day, and offers me great wisdom in how to handle the events currently transcribing in my life.

Keeping a short journal makes it easy to start a daily habit of writing. Even with simple entries, insights into past events allows you to see progress and receive strength. In a year of writing, my journals are already “worth more than gold.”