Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas was Great!


Dear family!
Ok, Christmas was so fun! Your gifts were perfect! Yes my suit is great! It is super slick! it fits just about perfect and is just right because it gives me a little room to grow, its awesome!
 Well what can I say this week, honestly its like there is always so much, I can't even remember what is the most important to tell you!
A couple things I want to get out of the way first and foremost! The gifts were amazing. You managed to box up Christmas and family memories and ship that joy right here to Bayonne. Its incredible, seriously, that takes talent. I could tell the care and effort you put into it, it was palpable. You made my day, but not by the gifts; which were all exactly right by the way. No, you made my day because each one of you included tid-bits of fun little things that meant so much to me. Specifically the letters, ties, cologne, suit, and real-GOLD~thing!
Ty, your letter was great, I always open your letters first! You wanna know why? Well because they are hilarious! but more importantly they help me feel connected to you. You really do write well and I love to hear the detail you include about your week, the things that are going on with you, and the sort. You are awesome little brother! Keep up the good work!
Dad your emails do not bore me in the slightest! Are you kidding me! I felt like I was on the beach again! Please keep writting about the small things! Thanks for your insights and like I said before help those missionaries in your ward! You can be such a blessing to them!
Mom, that is affirmative. I will check in. =) Yes, I have been exercising and it has been sufficient. I have set goals and made plans and have seen results, and plus, its just fun to me to work out in the mornings and feel like I am being productive that early. I feel like my whole day is better when I get my exercise in, and its the same with scripture study! The whole day depends on it, so I have learned not to neglect either!
Ok so this week was great! We received tons of help from Heavenly Father and the taste of success has been the perfect incentive to improve and to keep doing what we are doing. Sometimes starting is the hardest part. This week we got 7 new investigators! Sweet right! Well it is for us anyway! So we have been trying to be really thankful for that.
Ok the most special parts of this week for me, the success was amazing, and I am seeing improvement!
Guess what I did? I have learned how to play "He is Risen" on piano! I just have decided every time the opportunity appears, and it is OK to do according t missionary rules, I play that one hymn and I pretty much have it down! Now I am just working on perfecting it and finishing up the last part. I have never learned a hymn before, and with a piano in the house for 18 years!, so that in and of itself proves to me how this mission is helping me. I have just really learned to focus on what I want to see happen and, God willing, it often does! I have set spiritual, language, and physical goals in that order of importance for the upcoming year and I have been rewarded with the contentment in realizing, "hey this is where I am at, and this is where I can be, and if you are willing to do what you have said here on this paper Elder Showalter this is how you are gonna get there!" It has made me so much less worried about why am not this and that, and made me realize what and how I can become something better, the said "this and that". So that has been fun really fun. I've learned life is like dinner, you have to eat all types of food. In high school life was sports, but now I see you can't pull that off, and I didn't! Hahahah So now I just want to apologize to Mom for being a stinker about homework and school. =) Yes, after all these years. It is cool to do well in everything you do, and that included school! So I promise to stop being lame and do well in missionary work, physical fitness, school, or whatever! If I'm gonna do it, I'm gonna try to do it well! 
This week the names that are very important are, Brother Deangelo and Sister Caroline, The Dominguez family, Medhat, and the Rodriguezes. I have felt the power of your prayers this week! And I know this week I will feel them too!
Love you sweet family,


 Elder Showalter
 P.s.
 And it was also awesome that I received a box of sugar cookies from sister Marquez! Tell her I love her! Just to know she cares enough to send me something is such a great thing to know! That means she is thinking about me! AWE =)

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Christmas Day Dinner with the Burts



video

This is an AWESOME one!! Check it out for sure!

Sister Burt Sent us this email on Saturday morning, Dec. 21.  It was such an amazing, fun thing for us to get this insight into some of the Christmas festivities going on for Elder Showalter.  In the video "Go tell it on the Mountain" you can see him in the background video taping Alex Boye.  Go check out the videos on the blog link listed below, they are great!!!

As the mother of a new missionary, and it being his first Christmas in the field I am so grateful to all those who obviously went to such great efforts to make this a really special Christmas party for these missionaries!!  It has really been so much fun to be a missionary mom!


Dear Showalter family,

I thought you'd be interested to know that Alex Boye' was our special guest speaker/performer at our All Mission Conference. You can read about it and see video footage at our blog http://kingstonburts.blogspot.com/.

But, what I thought you'd especially like to know is that during one of his songs (while in the chapel) he walked down the aisle and occasionally touched missionaries on the shoulder.  All the missionaries were straining their necks to follow him with their eyes to wherever he was going, but your son choose to just focus on the music and did not turn his neck and was therefore very surprised when from behind him, he felt a tender touch and rub across his shoulders as Alex came down the aisle on his side of the chapel and paused just long enough to make contact with your son before he returned to the podium.

On the ride home in the car, we were all commenting on how special that was for him, and he said, "My mom would just be thrilled to know that that happened for me."  So..... I thought I'd tell you :)

Merry Christmas,
Sister Burt

P.S.  We are taking our two lap tops with skype to the Church on Tuesday at 9:00 am so that our Bayonne missionaries can make their Christmas Skype calls. Your son is going to let you know when he emails on Monday - but now you already know :)


Dec. 23, 2013

Dear Family,
Can't wait to talk to you tomorrow! It feels like yesterday when I was talking on the phone to you from the airport! Time is going by! 
Ok, so a couple of things, I got one package, but not the other. I think it just had a little sticker attached to the top in clear, transparency tape that said New Jersey Morristown Mission. It didn't look like it was mailed. I'm actually not sure if that was your package.
Secondly, dad last week I asked what you wanted me to do about the international charger thing. I looked at the packaging that amazon sent it in and it said 2 replacement batteries...non elph 110 hs New. That is clearly not what I got though. What do I do?
Third, I have a package I want to send for Christmas, but I will have to use money off of my debit card, is that ok?
Fourth! I love you all so much!

Love
Elder Showalter

Dec, 18, 2013

Dec. 18, 2013

Dear Family!

Well I have been super busy this week! Sorry for not being able to email, we have had and will have a major activity everyday this week. Ok so first, guess who went to Manhattan? I did! I saw Times Square, The Empire State Building, Central Park, the big tree outside of the Rockefeller Center, and all of this crazy, busy, glowing madness on the way to the Temple. Crazy cool right? Right. We sang Christmas Carols in a subway station, and it was legit, there are a ton of pictures (relatively speaking) of the sweet stuff I saw yesterday. 
I was happy to hear from you all again! Dad your letter was really good this week! I'm a fan of the small things and brief looks into everyone's lives! Keep it up! I hope work keeps going well (or starts, whatever the case may be this time of year!)  and you, and the rest of the family, are lifted during this Christmas season.
Brooke(and baby=)). I love you so much!!!!!!! You are the best! I love your letters and they always make me so happy! And yes I expect to have those pictures on my desk by New Years! I cant wait to see the harbingers of my little nephew! 
Christian, nice Portuguese hombre, keep that up and one day you will you can be like me! =) Thanks for writing! Finish up this semester strong! I can't wait to hear about Christmas break and how all your tests went! (and yours too Brookie) Study hard, work hard, your the best!
Mom. I absolutely love your letters. I can literally feel your love seeping out of your emails! You are the best and I love you. Yes I did get your letter and it was awesome! Ok and two things I think we will be skyping with the Burts @ their place and I never got those batteries, Amazon sent me two international chargers, I'm not complaining, because they look expensive and I need them, or at least one. So I actually don't know what to do about that.
Thanks for telling me what you did about Filipino. Although sometimes generalities like that don't always ring true I can see what people are saying.
 I do need rubber overshoes. One of my sets of shoes has really taken a beating. Thermals would be good to but I will be ok for several more weeks. I have gotten used to the cold and I actually really enjoy it. I asked Sister Jeppson where to buy overshoes today and she told me to go to Walmart, but I won't be able to get back there until at least Monday. If you could or already have sent them that would be great. 
We really are not teaching much at all. What we need are solid, interested people, and in all honesty better communication with those we have already contacted.
The companionship has me more upset than even last week, but it's not like its unbearable. I feel bad though because I feel like my trainer just wants to go home. At the same time I don't know how critical I am being. For all I know I just have incredibly high expectations, in fact that is highly likely, but until I have something to compare this companionship with I will have no idea how effective it really is. I do know however, something has to change simply because I DO see so many issues. I also find that it is difficult to act the way I want to and know I should because I feel from my companions like they think I am not doing something right! But they won't tell me what it is. It is super frustrating. 
The branch is small, and well I don't really know how to explain it besides saying it is different. There are very normal members and they do try to feed us. There aren't an army of them though so we do eat a lot at home.   
I do language study alone, and I need to improve there. If there was something I would want prayers for it would be that. I really want to get all my studies in every day, but even out here on a mission there are excuses for why they didn't happen this day or why they can't happen for tomorrow, but they are just that, excuses.
The apartment is sufficient, and comparatively nice I'm sure. I am sending home pictures of it and so you will be able to see it soon.
I will skype for an hour on Christmas at the Burt's! Can't wait. 
I'm sending a package but don't open it until Christmas. 

I love you all and wish you my best
Elder Showalter

Singing in Sacrament Meeting



On Sunday December 15, Elder Showalter sang Away in a Manger in Sacrament Mtg w/Sis Burt and President Grant (the Branch President-  He was singing a solo as the picture was taken which is why McKay and Sis Burt aren't singing).  Brother Burt stepped out of the chapel to take the picture.  The Burt's (a senior missionary couple in Elder Showalter's area) have been amazing at sending us emails, pictures and videos to share more of  our dear missionary with us!!  We are so grateful to them!

Dec 9, 2013

Mommy! and family!, Just kidding I love you all!

Hey this week's letters were great!!!!!! I absolutely loved all of them!!! Ty you did a really good job and I can't even tell you how happy it makes me to hear how you are doing! Its good to feel like I am back home when I read your letters! And WHAAAATT? Are you serious about a nephew? Oh my goodness I am soo excited!!!! When I read your letter Brooke I can't tell you how happy the news made me! I felt all warm and happy! I hope this semester goes well and ends well! Oh and speaking of Ty, it brings peace to my soul that you have pulled your grades back up. I think it wise to tell you that life is easier when you work harder on your grades and study the scriptures. Tell me what you learn next week. Your humor makes me very happy. Be happy!
Mom your letter was amazing because of the detail and vitality of it. It felt completely real and more like you were talking to me rather than writing an email. In cant wait to talk to you at Christmas. In my next email I will answer your questions.
Our companionship is teaching some great people. A lot are inactive members or less active members. Three come to mind that have made a big impression on me. Firstly a man named Jauriel has started coming back to church since I arrived here. We have visited him frequently and he has progressed since we started talking to him. He is a man who found the church I think it was maybe two or three years ago, but he became offended and stopped coming. We met with him and talked about the value of the sacrament and how it is meant to symbolize relinquishing the pains, sins, and sufferings of the week through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. The lesson was powerful and he realized later and said in his own words "I had allowed one or two people to keep me from receiving the blessings of the sacrament." He is right. He allowed Satan to convince him to stop coming. He has since again felt the blessings of the gospel and holy ghost return to his life by measures and I can't wait to see him keep growing.
It says in the white handbook I am not supposed to say anything negative about my area or companions to people or in letters home. I don't like everything about Bayonne or my companions or other things but I want you to know I am happy. I know I am supposed to be here and I do have a lot to learn. 
We are also teaching a new investigator named Medhat. He is Egyptian, 22 and has had some recent struggles with many things. He, however is very nice and genuinely interested! He has a lot of potential. He swam in the junior Olympics for 100 butterfly and breast so I think he is super cool.
The branch is small and different, but I like many of the people. Most are converts and we average about 15 people per sacrament meeting. You remember last week I told you about Brother Hill. I am constantly more impressed by him. He is so sincere and innocent.
People here are generally guarded. Most people as one of the Assistants to the President put it, "Have a wall." But just like anywhere else there is no general rule that applies to everyone in Bayonne. There are many people here from many places and it is fun to see all the diversity. I am truly enjoying it.
The city is a city. It is set up on a grid, with streets running north to south and east to west. Broadway is right in the middle and it is my favorite street. Lots of stores and food, with Christmas lights adorning the trees and lots of people to talk to. The street Sister Rodriguez lives on, if I told you about her. 
Me and my companions work well together but don't get along perfectly. I think we just have different ideas to get to the same goals so I am trying to listen to the things they tell me and learn because I am new. We run into problems because I don't think they are always willing to say when I do something that bothers them. I am trying to get them to open up and let me know so I can fix it and I am trying to be nice, but things in general aren't bad. Its really only one of them who I worry about anyway. I will try to keep you updated.
The most challenging thing I think is the whole experience, the funnest part, the whole experience. Life of a missionary is fast. It's a growing experience for me and, I am willing to wager, for others as well. So the best part for me is seeing growth, in myself, in others, and in Heavenly Fathers kingdom. The most challenging part is getting that growth, because it doesn't always come easy, in fact, just about never.  
We walk and use the bus to get around. I'm plenty warm mom so don't worry! It could be much worse and you raised a tough kid.
Rules for skype, haven't a clue. I'll tell ya next week!

Love you all!
Elder McKay Showalter

Dec. 2, 2013

Dear Family,
I Love you so much! And happy to report on a good week in the field. First off I just want to let you know I FOUND MY CHARGER. =(. Sorry.
So this week was crazy. I am in a very different environment than I have ever been in before. Everything in my area is concrete, literally everything, houses, people, food, trees, dogs..... ha-ha no I'm just kidding. I'm was happy to hear from you all this week and can't wait to here what my nefice will be!
Teaching here is good, can anyone guess what language would be really helpful here?  ..... Anyone?    ARABIC. Crazy right. My first two lessons on day one were with people who were from Egypt and could speak little or no understandable English ( or at least so I thought at the time)

I have learned to decipher diverse dialects because I am not kidding everyone in the world is here. I won't even bother listing, you name it Bayonnes got it.
 It's nice to be in the real field and I am learning a lot. Patience being one of the top. Our area isn't currently as successful as I would like it to be so me and my companions are working hard to change that.
Our branch is so small we meet behind a small grocery store in a converted Laundromat, and although that is kind of new to me and probably to those of you who are reading this =) l love my family, It still feels like church.
We have an amazing ward mission leader here named Brother Hill. He is a convert of about a year I think and is one of the highlights of my time here. He comes out with us so much he could practically be our fourth companion. I have already seen him come out with the missionaries three to four times in five days. I am so grateful for his efforts, testimony, happiness and faith.
This first week hasn't been quite what I thought it would be. I thought missionary work would be alot more running around from appointment to appointment with our hair on fire than it is now. We haven't worked as much as I thought we would. Alot of other things seem to pop up on our calendar. On Thanksgiving I had some amazing experiences. We started the day by studying a little and then boarding a train to our zone leaders apartment. As we went we were taken through a city across the water from Manhattan. It. was. spectacular. We were among a bunch of buildings and offices and as we went roads cut lines through the concrete jungle to reveal amazing dramatic and close views of the liberty tower. My companions could tell you I nearly had a heart attack, and I wont even mention when we saw the Statue of Liberty going to district meeting the Tuesday after I got here. KILLER.
 One last thing for the fam. Wyatt emailed me this week and said that he had the wrong email. I can see now what a great missionary opportunity this is. 

Love you all,
Elder Showalter

McKay and his companions on his first night in NJ


Reassignment

Mom!
I got my reassignment! I will be serving in the New Jersey, Morristown Mission.
I leave on Monday from Salt Lake City Airport at 9:55. I will be flying delta airlines flight 516 and will arrive at 4:19 at Newark Liberty International. I can't wait to call you!
Love,
Elder Showalter

Week 5 in the MTC

Dear Family,

 I can't believe I am already writing you again. The days have meshed into one around here! 
 I was noticing yesterday that I don't really have a lot to write about. I seem to have just kind of hit a groove and have began to just move through the days. It makes me realize at night when I get your Dear Elders, which are very much appreciated by the way, and when I sit down to write in my journal that I'm not really making each day distinct. My goal for this week in this regard is to pay attention, and remember why each day is special. In order to do this I have to try to see these things. I noticed when I was doing this before I went to sleep happier and was satisfied with what I could record.
Portuguese is coming well! Yesterday my teacher asked me five questions really quickly and I was able to answer all but the last. It was super cool! My comprehension is decent and I am really feeling the gift of tongues.
I can't remember if I told you all this but.... maybe last week?.... Elder L. Tom Perry came and spoke to us! It was super cool.
I am making lots of friends here and I love my companion. We get along great and laugh together often!
Ty your letter to me was great!!!! I was happy to hear from you and about life in general! You allowed me to be home again for a few minutes when you wrote the way you did. You made your experiences come to life, and threw in your classic sense of humor. I loved it!! 
Mom, Thanks for your letter too! In response to your questions, I'm not sure when I will be able to call, or email, or be able to let you know where I am going. I am pretty sure that I get my reassignment on Thursday, so you can expect me to call you or email you within a week after that. I know you asked the other day about my exercise and nutrition and I wanted to let you know I am doing well. I have started running, doing push-ups, pull-ups, and crunches everyday.
Dad, Thanks for all the letters. Your consistency and thoughts are awesome.

Love,

Elder Showalter

Thursday, December 5, 2013

4th week in the MTC

Hi everyone! This week has been entertaining and uplifting. 

First thing first, I want you to know, all of you, that I am not in the least bit upset about my visa. I am busy with the work here at the MTC, enjoying my new companion, and sufficiently burdened by my responsibilities as the senior zone leader as to not be worried about when, or how my visa will come.
Tonight we will be hearing from Elder L. Tom Perry!!!!! Super excited! Most of our zone is singing in the choir! Can't wait to sing for a prophet! Ty you should tell Mrs. Salo and the choir hi for me, give Emily a hug for me and tell them I am singing in a choir here of about 500 people! Tell me about swimming and water polo! Tell me about friends and girlfriends and seminary. I'd love to hear.

This week I learned a little about leadership. In fact during my stay here at the MTC I have learned the value of correct, Christ-like leadership. There are so many opportunities here to correct other missionaries simply because there are so many rules to follow! Of course there are plenty of Elders and Sisters who don't follow rules simply because they don't want to, but in any case I have learned in every instance in my life where I have been a leader that empty words aren't followed. People don't follow a person who is not who they try to help others be. The Savior very rarely chastised but rather showed as a perfect example what things we are supposed to be as people. I've been trying to allow others to make there own decisions, and inform, implore, invite, and above all else to be an example. 

In reality time has started to fly by. During the first few weeks here days were very long. Perhaps I am not working as hard or am simply getting used to the schedule. I think a little of both. Christian, send me a Dear Elder in regards to your advice on effective language study! I am struggling to find structure or direction and feel I am not being as effective as I could be. I am happy with the directions I am heading however. I am still doing my best. Setting a strong pace I can maintain and doing the things I am supposed to do. This is such a great blessing for me to be here!

I love you my precious family,
Elder Showalter