Monday, August 25, 2014

Happy 19th Birthday Elder Dahl...Written 8-25-2014

Happy 19th Birthday!
Notice the lovely shape of the cake.
And boy, what a birthday candle! (Made by his companion)

These guys are all living in Washington D.C. as
roommates while serving in the Mt. Pleasant Ward
Monday evening Elder H, Elder C, and I went to a less-active member's home and taught her about enduring to the end. She is going through some difficult times and we were trying to lift her spirit. We also went and dropped off some things for a member that needed help.

On Tuesday, we went to a member's home for breakfast and learned how to make flour tortillas. This week we were kind of addicted to making them all the time. We used up all of the special flour mix we had to make them this week. They are fun and delicious to make. Elder H is the best at making them circular and I'm the best at getting them the right thickness (or rather thinness). Anyways, I'm not sure I haven't mentioned this yet but Elder H is leaving this Friday. He is finishing his mission and going home early for school in the middle of this transfer. Tuesday he went over with the East Elders to have some goodbyes with those members while Elder C and I worked in our area. We went all the way to the Potomac River to try and find a lost member but she no longer lives there now. On the way there we went down some great roads through several parks. I also got to pass by the Swedish Embassy on the way.

This is the scenery for one of the trails to the DC Parks.
Much more green and lush than dried out California right now.
Wednesday we had a great lesson with one of our investigators in the morning about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We also had some lessons with some members in the evening.

Thursday we had our district meeting and afterwards we went to a really good burger place down the street called Z-Burger. We then went to the Hospital to go check on one of our members that was admitted there. She was doing alright when we were there and she was healthy enough to come to church on Sunday.

In front of the Potomac River
Riding under a Fun Bridge
On Friday in the afternoon we went to South West (south and west of the capital) again to a different (and lower) part of the Potomac River to try and find another of the area's lost members. He also no longer lives there and we found out that he now lives in Virginia. We have been trying to locate all of our areas lost members (we have 25 more we are trying to find). We don't have any more lost members that far south in our area so we shouldn't be down there any time too soon. In the evening we had a little goodbye dinner for one of the investigators moving to New Jersey that grew pretty close to the missionaries. We had some food we made and the others brought some desserts. It was a fun time and great to be together. After the dinner we all went to the Branch Correlation meeting.

Saturday we taught an English Class in the morning which went really well. We spent some time in the early afternoon updating our records and doing some office work. In the afternoon we had an awesome lesson on baptism with the progressing investigator of the area. We are very close to having a baptism date with her again. We then had a lesson with another woman on repentance and she really felt the spirit there.

Sunday was a nice day. It was Elder H's last Sunday in the branch so there were several goodbyes said to him. We also had a lot of member lessons in the evening. This week was really successful and I am very happy to be here.

Today has been great so far. I opened Aunt D's packages she sent me and have been enjoying some of the Birthday Oreo Cookies and Bertie Bot's Every Flavour Beans this morning. Tell her thank you for all the great gifts. I also got a few cards I opened today from some family members. Tell them thank you too.

Thank you for the Birthday wishes. I hope Dad is feeling better and that everything will continue to go well for you and the family.

Today has been really good so far. For breakfast, Elder H made everyone German Pancakes and Turkey Bacon. During morning studies the other Elders distracted me and made me a cake. It was a two layer yellow cake with chocolate frosting and we then put some of the Birthday Oreo Cookies on top to add to it.

I hope you have a great day and a great coming week.

Elder Braden Dahl

Birthday Month in our Apartment...Written 8-18-2014

Monday night all of our appointments cancelled so we ended up going to Meridian Park to go GQ [General Question] people. We were invited to play soccer in the dirt with a bunch of guys (mainly Hispanics). It started to rain as well but we ended up playing in the mud and dust for an hour.
Meridian Park with Elder C

Meridian Park with Elder H
Tuesday I met one of the area's more solid investigators and we taught her about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It was a great lesson and it was fun being able to teach in a trio. [3 Elders as companions]
Tuesday it rained a ton. There were some flood warnings going out due to all the rain we received. So naturally like any other missionaries, we bike through it to our morning appointments. Needless
to say we were pretty drenched, more like soaked through, to be realistic. It was really fun trying to make our way through the rain. Elder C popped both of his bike tubes hitting a pothole in the gutter so we had to walk to an appointment and back to our house to repair it. In the afternoon the rain let up and it was more of a light drizzle but we walked to our appointments because they were very close to our apartment and one another. It was a very fun day being out there. We also had a member come out with us Tuesday Night, so Elder C and I went out to GQ around Meridian Park. We found and taught 2 new investigators and got return appointments with both of them.

Wednesday we reviewed the Restoration with this awesome kid that I met. He wants to get baptized. He's only 12 and his mother says he can't get baptized until he turns 13 because in her eyes he will be old enough to really make that decision and will have proved his commitment to want to be baptized. We are still working on it but we know he'll be a great member.

Thursday was Zone Training for the Washington DC Zone. It was a really good meeting with some great workshops on the Plan of Salvation and studying the Scriptures. Afterwards, we had our weekly planning session.

Friday was one of our roommate's birthday. His mom sent him some cake mix and candles so Elder H, Elder C, and I made him 20 cupcakes for his 20th birthday while they were out for an appointment during our lunch hour.

Saturday morning we all headed over to the Holmead Chapel to clean it with several more missionaries and some English and Spanish members. The Holmead Chapel is one of the church's abandoned chapels and has been so for a little over 2 years after the completion of the 16th St Chapel.
Holmead Chapel
The Holmead Chapel is super tiny building less than a block away from Columbia Heights. The place has been pretty ransacked by the homeless and the missionaries. We ended up throwing away about a dumpster's size of trash and made it look like a usable chapel again. It's a nice little building. The stake here is looking to sell it but until then it is being used for occasional activities put on by various wards or branches as well as district meetings for the missionaries. In the evening we met a Hispanic family at the park and we had a great lesson with them about the Restoration and they really liked what they heard. We also taught another of our solid investigators who is pretty close to baptism. We had a great discussion on faith with her.

Sunday we were in the chapel for 7 hours. We had two meetings to attend before Sacrament Meeting followed by the normal three hours of church which was then followed by a branch farewell dinner for a missionary they are sending off this Wednesday.
The Elders that are serving in the Mt. Pleasant Branch in Washington D.C.
After we got back to the apartment we bussed up to the Visitors' Center for a "Why I Believe". We had an investigator ride up with a member and we met up with them there. We then managed to hitch a ride back to our apartment.
I hope you have a great day and that Dad feels better soon. It stinks feeling vertigo all the time but I hope it goes away soon. I also hope you have a good week coming up.

Today we biked down to Chinatown and the National Mall with our roommates. It was really fun walking around Chinatown and going down to the Air and Space Museum today and seeing some of the displays there. The Mission Executive Secretary J.S. bought me a Baskin Robin's ice cream cake as an early birthday present which was super nice of him.

Elder Braden Dahl

Thursday, August 14, 2014

My New Area in... Written 8/11/2014

D.C.! Inside the Beltway, In the City, My area includes the Monuments, Zoo, White House, etc.

Mom, I haven't really been on Facebook that much so I haven't really had time to post anything. We did have transfers on Wednesday, the transition was smooth. I'm still on bike and the Zone Leaders brought me to my new apartment. I actually am already friends with my new companions. Yes, you read that right, companions. I'm in a trio now and we actually all know each other from when we were all in the same district 3 transfers ago.

I can forward you the Excellence Newsletter but there aren't really opportunities at a zone meeting before my birthday. However, I am now in the zone where the Secretary of the Mission Presidency, Brother A, watches over the missionaries and fairly regularly goes to the mission office to bring things down to the missionaries here in this zone. Please don't worry about it if it comes late to me. There is no rush or pressure and I can get it the following week at Zone Training.

On Tuesday we had our last district meeting and we all took a photo together. Afterwards, we went back to the apartment and had lunch. For most of the day Elder G was with us because his companion was called to be an Assistant to the President and had to leave a day early from his area. Tuesday was an awesome day for us. We found 3 new investigators, had a member present lesson. Taught a less-active member, and had 4 other lessons. It was a great last day in the area of Montgomery Village South. Tuesday night I finished packing up and was ready for the transfer meeting next morning.

Elder Dahl's new apartment building in Mount Pleasant West area
Wednesday was transfers and unlike before we didn't find out who our new companions were or where our new areas were until during the transfer meeting. This was the older way of doing apparently that some of the older missionaries remember doing. So I had no idea where I was going or who my new companion would be when I arrived at the Visitors' Center on Wednesday morning. They announced the companionships and areas by zones. 15 new missionaries came out but none were Spanish missionaries so they actually ended up closing the Germantown area. I am now serving in the Mount Pleasant West area with my two companions. After the meeting I arrived in my new area and I unpacked a little (one of my companions stayed at the Visitors' Center for the departing lunch for a little bit and my other companion went on exchanges to an appointment with one of our roommates. I stayed with the other roommate for a bit and helped him in his area). We then had a quick lunch and headed out to an appointment. After the appointment we went down to Columbia Heights and General Questioned (GQ'd) people there for a while and found a few potential investigators.

You might be wondering where exactly Mount Pleasant is and what area I am exactly covering. I am no longer in Maryland and I don't cover anything in Maryland. I am in DC and cover everything south of Quincy St. and west of Georgia Ave. to Florida Ave. to North Capital St. in DC. My area includes the Monuments, Zoo, White House, etc. However, almost all of the work is in the vicinity of Quincy and Georgia.

 3rd Area: Mount Pleasant West

Anyways, Thursday we had our weekly planning session and it mostly consisted of getting to know the area, members, and investigators. It also was my companion's birthday and we had a little hang out dinner up on our apartment's rooftop terrace with some pizza, lemonade and cake with an investigator and some of the missionaries in our district. After dinner we went out again and went to try and find some of the less-active members in the branch.

On Saturday we General Questioned (GQ'd) some more at Columbia Heights and found a few more potential investigators. We also visited a couple members and less-actives from the ward. We went down 16th street to visit some people and GQ and we passed by scores of churches. Including a former LDS church building built in the '30s. It is really tall and the exterior is made entirely of Utah quarried stone.
 Former LDS Church building on 16th Street    One of the most elegant small churches in the city

The building also used to have an Angel Moroni atop the steeple. It was a cool thing to see. We also passed by several Embassies and Consulates. While we were down there we GQ'd at one of the parks and met an awesome guy from Ecuador.

Mount Pleasant Branch Building
Mount Pleasant Branch Building
Sunday one of my roommates and I went to the Branch Council meeting and attended it before church. President and Sister Cooke spoke during Sacrament Meeting in the Mount Pleasant Branch. We had a good but very lively Gospel Principles class and then our District Leader and I taught the Young Men's class.

We also went to the Visitors' Center and brought a family in the branch with us to the Night of Music and Inspiration event. It was a really good event and fun to be there.

I'm doing great biking around and the heat hasn't been bad, or I'm used to it now. I don't have any complaints. I hope you do well this week with the crazy schedule and the transition back to school.

Dad, I'm glad that you're feeling better and I hope that things at work can go smoothly with the temporary change.

Last week was Transfers and I am now serving in the Mount Pleasant West area. That means I am serving in The District of Columbia now! It's quite the adrenaline rush riding around in the city on bike dodging cars, people, opening car doors, buses, and pretty much anything else you can think of. Though sometimes it feels like we just spend forever locking or unlocking our bikes; It's really fun to be serving here and there are a lot of good people here. It's fun being in a branch now and I'll get to know the people a lot quicker.

We have a really nice apartment here (one of the most expensive in the mission) right above a metro station on Quincy St. and Georgia Ave. There is a nice lobby, rooftop terrace, and gym here. Tell Mom that there are no bed bugs here.

Elder Braden Dahl

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Bed Bug...Written 8/4/2014

Mom, How to make a missionary mom get completely freaked out in just two words. Bed Bug. Elder G found a (singular) bed bug in the apartment. We had apartment checks on Tuesday and they said nuke the place by Friday and that they'd call an exterminator to come out and check the place. I forgot to tell you but we were supposed to move out of our apartment Friday because it's is time for a new apartment according to the mission office. Anyways, the exterminator did his preliminary check on Wednesday and found no bed bugs just a few bed bug droppings. So we probably found the bed bug of the apartment. However, we aren't allowed to move out of the apartment until next Friday after the exterminator comes this Wednesday to spray the place down. Most of this last Thursday was spent packing up the apartment into boxes and bags until we got a visit from one of the senior missionaries at 5pm telling us the exterminator and apartment news. So our apartment is mostly packed up and will remain so for a week. The mission office wants to be sure that the bed bugs are completely taken care of before the move. That way we don't have to repeat the process of possible bed bugs in a new apartment. Everything is fine and there have been no bites here. They just want to make sure that there isn't one or two bed bugs hanging around.

Last week on Monday we went to do service at a place called A Wider Circle. It is an organization that is trying to end poverty. It completely supplies impoverished people with anything they want: clothing, furniture, toys, beds, supplies, etc. Most of the mission went to the service project. I helped out at first at the kids corner where there were children's toys and other items. We organized the entire section and made it look more like a showroom. (The place wants it to appear like a showroom so he people don't feel less than anyone else.) When that was done I went downstairs in the warehouse organizing and sorting their donations. It was a fun time and I enjoyed being there.

I'm glad Cousin Camp was a hit and it certainly sounds like you had boatloads of fun and had quite the busy week. My week stayed busy as well but it was filled with tons of fun too.

Monday night we visited with one of our less-active members and invited her to come to church. On Tuesday my companion and I taught a new investigator and set up a return appointment with her this week. Her husband is also friends with us so we are hoping that he can become a new investigator as well. We also taught another of our investigators and helped her with her English in the evening.

Wednesday was our temple trip (same as yours for the Cousin Camp). I brought a name and completed his initiatory and endowment. It was a great time at the temple. There is something even more wonderful about bringing a name to the temple. We saw the newest of the three new temple videos which I really enjoyed. It's amazing what you can learn from each visit from the temple. Thank you so much for getting so many of my names done at the temple. You and any of the family are welcome to take any names I find for any temple trip, Cousin Camp, or just because.

We also dropped off a table and chairs along with some other supplies at the mission office that we got donated from members. The mission has to furnish 5 new senior couple apartments and they're busy collecting all that they can. They've finally gotten enough supplies for the new apartments. On Friday, my companion and I taught our progressing investigator the law of tithing and also fasting. She accepted it and is really making some great progress. We also were able to teach one of the families in the ward that night and had a great lesson on the Book of Mormon. In the late evening we did some quick service for one of her sisters in the ward.

Saturday was the Nationals Baseball game. When you said I keep having too much fun this was not the week to disprove that. It was the Washington Nationals versus the Philadelphia Phillies. The Nationals crushed the Phillies 11-0. We all arrived in our districts and made our way into the stadium. It was a really fun game to watch and hang out with  hundreds of missionaries and members. It brought back a lot of memories of going and seeing the Angels play in Anaheim or the Padres down in San Diego. At the end of the game one of the Elders found a little store in the Park that was having a sale on some of the official Nats Hats for $10, I picked up two hats that were normally $40. It was a sweet deal first because they were selling them that cheap in the Park and second because the street vendors outside were selling the knockoff hats for more (~$15) that didn't look nearly as nice. Stores here that sell Nats Hats run from about $25-$60 depending on the hat. When the game ended, President Cooke had us leave by districts with the district with the Zone Leaders leaving last after all of the districts in their zone had gotten on the metro.

Sunday, one of the investigators I started teaching in Germantown, got baptized. He is the Dad of the 8-year old that we taught and was baptized. It was great to see him be baptized and see that decision he made actually happen. I'm glad that I was able to go to the service and see him there and watch one of the investigators I taught be baptized.

This coming Wednesday is Transfers (not that I need to tell you). We didn't receive the normal call-out from the Zone Leaders on Saturday night due to the Nationals' Game. Sunday Morning we received a call out from the Assistants for the entire mission on who was leaving or staying in the area. In my current district, over half of us are leaving our areas; Only Elder A, Elder G, and a Sister Missionary will be staying in their areas. My time on the mission will continue in another area as I will be leaving Montgomery Village South. I took a few pictures already with some of the ward members and an investigator. So now you'll have some proof I do some work out here and don't just party all the time.


Dad, I hope you are enjoying having everyone back home now and that you're enjoying yourself. It certainly sounds like you got a lot done at the house while they were away. Work sounds like it is about the same as when I left.

Everyone in the ward has been telling me I'm losing a lot of weight. My grey suit looks like it eats me and I'm probably going to find a tailor to get it more manageable. I'm down a few pounds (Mom's note: more than 5). I still have a lot to go and I'm hoping to continue to lower my weight. I'm not starving or anything but being on bike gives me a lot of cardio workouts.

Transfers are this Wednesday and I will be leaving Montgomery Village South. I don't know where yet but we will find out probably on Tuesday night.
Elder Braden Dahl

Cousin Camp Report - Written by Stacie Dahl (to Braden) on 8/3/2014

Hi Braden,
So I can't believe that you have been out 8 months already! And that you are having a birthday soon! I believe you got the call on wether you are being transferred or not on Sunday. My guess is that you are staying with your same companion in your same place.

It sounds like you guys are having many opportunities to teach which is great! It sounds like you are also taking the opportunity (frequently) to be led and guided by the Spirit. What great opportunities to have miracles in finding and helping the people that at the moment need your assistance!

Cousin Camp was super great and everyone wants to do it again next year. It really did give the kids a chance to improve their friendships. It was fun to see your 15-year old brother pal-around with The 14 & 15 year old boy cousins. Your 16-year old brother took charge for many games and the skits. Some of the fun included skits which were performed for Family Home Evening, team building games at Huntington Beach Central Park-capture the flag, ring toss using a hula hoop, soak the sponge to fill your bucket to the line and a crazy one where you designate one person per team to put on a shower cap, the Aunts put shaving cream on the shower cap and then the kids threw cereal to see who could stick the most. There was a learning curve that if you lean forward to catch more cereal, the shaving cream melts off. Then I drove your brothers and your Aunt out to Riverside to see some of the cousins on my side (Mom's). We visited at the house for a while, then went to a cool park and ate pizza. It was fun to see her and all the kids. Wednesday we got up and out of the house by 8:30am to take the YM/YW cousins to do baptisms. So we did 32 names that you researched, I brought 31 Winkler baptisms, plus Grandpa Dahl brought some Dahl names. Grandpa Dahl was the baptizer. Grandma Dahl leaned over to me and said, 'you know, you never know if this is the last time that he'll be able to do this.' which was quite a sobering thought. But how awesome is it that your 71-year-old grandfather baptizes you in the temple?!?

I went to the Visitors' Center and the Sister Missionaries greeted me. I asked if there was a group with a lot of kids and they said, 'oh! the ones here for Cousin Camp?' They had set them up with a movie and were 'watching' our group. We watched a nice video and then they took us in the room that is set up like Jerusalem and we watched another short video. Then they asked if there was something that we wanted to do and I suggested the pull the book of Mormon out thing. So they let all the cousins pick out one to see where they would go on their future mission. The cousins had fun with it. Then we waited a while and finally the teen cousins and adults came back. I declared a selfie photo contest where those with a phone/camera teamed up with someone who didn't and they took pics around the temple grounds. As we walked it felt nearly 100 degrees…super hot. We found a shady spot and took a picture with all the cousins in it. Then we walked to the front and took some right in front of the reflecting pond. It was melting, sun in the eyes and then we bolted for some shade and relief from some air-conditioned cars. Then we wanted to go to this cool ice cream sandwich place called Diddy Riese that is right by UCLA in Westwood. We all managed to find a lunch place and then a few of us stood in the 20-minute line and bought for our own families. It was like $1.50 and you pick the cookies (can be 2 different kinds) and your ice cream. It was fun and yummy. By then it was 2:30pm and we headed back home to get out of the heat. It was just melting everywhere. So I had someone to check the weather on my phone…79 degrees in Santa Monica…I didn't check the humidity. It was just plain hot! That night we met up with my sister and saw a movie. Some saw Transformers (3?) and I took a younger bunch to How to Train Your Dragon 2. We had fun.

Thursday we had a "Chopped" food competition. We'd never seen the show but you get like 4 ingredients (and there's always a zinger) and have to make an appetizer and compete among 4 teams, then one gets eliminated and they make the main dish and then another gets eliminated and the last 2 compete for dessert. We did it a bit different. We divided the kids by age/ability and they could make what they want but it was strongly suggested. The 7-11 year olds did the appetizer…several fruits, a couple veggies, cheese squares and dips. A couple boys did a tossed fruit salad, we did a bowl of watermelon and then we did kabobs. The kids started calling them kabobbles and we did like 50 or 60 of them. Then they mixed up the dip packets. Then when time was up everyone came to Grandma's house for our lunch appetizers. Then we went next door for the main course which was mini bagel pizzas. That was the 12-16 year olds. Some made 4-meat with mini pepperoni, sausage, ham and bacon--yum! Others made an "Aisan-inspired Cuisine" that had some kind of soy sauce mix for the sauce and like grated carrot and chicken and I don't know what else. Then there was also cheese, pepperoni, BBQ chicken and they made like 90 mini pizzas. the BBQ sauce was kind of spicy plus whoever put the sauce on those put a lot of sauce so my eyes were watering by the time I was half way through my mini bagel. It was good but spicy!

Then we decided we were too full to have dessert before our next activity. We went to Get Air which is the same concept as Sky Zone. All the cousins went and had fun as they jumped for an hour. After an hour of sweating it out, we went back the 3rd house where we had dessert--chocolate pudding dirt (oreo) cups made by the 3-6 year olds (plus couple tweens were the 'minion' helpers) (The 3-6 year olds skit they decided to call themselves the minion group.) Then we had the water war out on the greenbelt. Water war ... needed referees but they had fun getting wet. We decided they needed to stay wet and get active so we took them all to Greenbrook pool until 8pm.

Friday we had the morning free. A few people went to see Guardians of the Galaxy. Myself and two of your brothers went to lunch at Souplantation with my sister near her work. Then she gave us a tour of the warehouse and the chip lines. It was weird how so many people were the same since I worked there 15 years ago. It was fun and educational! Then we headed down to South Orange County for our Pool Party and movie bash to end Cousin Camp. They have a nice community pool and we ate hot dogs there. My sister joined us after work. The kids swam for like 3 hours and then we went back to their house and watched Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 with a projector and screen in the backyard. They had popcorn and snacks and everyone stayed in their seat in the dark.

Whew! So now you know all about cousin camp! It was exhausting to the Moms but totally worth how much the kids all enjoyed it! Then I drove home on Saturday…with no other driver! I fell asleep about 30 minutes after we got home!

Sorry I wrote so much but I don't know what days to leave out. Hope you have a fabulous week and know I love you and pray for you!
Love Always and Forever! Mom