Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Week #29


Sorry that my letter is coming in so late.  Our P-day was a little bit skiwompus today.  We filmed with a lady from the service project that we did this weekend.  But I'm jumping ahead of myself, and I need to tell you a bit more about this week.

The highlight of this week was probably our service project that we had down in Crawfordville, which is about 30 miles south of Tallahassee.  Elders Murdoch and Shepherd, the elders down there, organized this service project for both of the Tallahassee Zones to help with the Keep Wakulla County Beautiful Coastal Cleanup.  It was super fun, basically what we did was we walked along the salty marshlands and picked up trash along the way.  I found a car drive line and we found a ton of beer bottles.  It was pretty fun because we got to venture into the underbrush a bit and pick up all sorts of stuff along the way.

It turned out to be pretty sketch though, because we saw a few snakes, all of which were poisonous. We saw two cottonmouths, pretty good size, and I almost got bitten by a little baby rattlesnake.  I reached down to pick up a piece of trash and then saw it slither a bit, so I jumped away and then looked back on it.  It was so small that it's rattle only sounded like any old southern bug buzzing away, so it's good that it was more scared of me than I was of it.  That definitely would have ruined my day, so I was a bit more wary of where I was walking and picking stuff up.  We got a lot of it on footage, so I'm sure you'll see it at some point.

Other than that we have been pretty much just been filming.  Transfers were this week, so we traveled around with all of the other missionaries and got some good footage.  I saw some old friends in different areas and made it all the way out to Pensacola for the first time, which was pretty exciting.  Transfers were nuts because we got 36 new missionaries into our mission, which is the equivalent of an entire zone.  And that's going to happen again next transfer.  Super nuts.  During the entire thing Elder Burnett was doing most of the filming, which I was a bit frustrated about, but it's all good because I'm not very good at it anyway.

I was a little bit frustrated this week because I haven't felt like I haven't been contributing much and the video is coming along slowly, but things are going to work out.  We are going to begin editing this week since the new computer finally arrived.  Elder Burnett will probably be doing most of the editing, and I'll be throwing in my two cents every so often, but like I said, that's alright.  Something that I've noticed about myself is that I'm very much a conceptual thinker, but when it comes down to the actual process of doing things it takes a bit for me to get into it.  Maybe it's a blessing or a curse, because I feel like a nefarious planner;  I love to just think and think and expand on an idea until it's completely exhausted and there is nothing left to do but to get it done.  Because of this I'm still leaning towards going into marketing, which I think I would be really successful at.

I actually have a new idea that I want to start implementing while Elder Burnett works on editing the film.  This is an idea that I haven't proposed to President yet, but I have thought about it quite a bit and I think that it will be successful.  There's all sorts of talk about the missionaries getting Facebooks, and also we have been working on these videos and collecting media, and there are ward and stake activities throughout Florida, and there are tons of resources online ( and that the Church has published in order to bring people to a greater understanding of who Jesus Christ is and how this is literally his church.  And all these things are great in and of themselves.  But a thought that I had was that perhaps, specifically for our mission, we could create a blog that links all of these things together, so that if an individual interacted with a missionary digitally, or found a ward event on a member-friend's Facebook, any of these things would lead that individual into the huge web of the Florida Tallahassee Mission and the missionaries in it and the things that they stand for and the doctrines that they teach.  That was a really long sentence, but I'm really excited about it.  Missionary work in the 21st century.

You want to hear the most ironic thing ever?  The hardest thing about having Elder Burnett as my companion is that he is too much like me.  We are both very particular in the way that we like things, and for some reason those things don't seem to align with each other.  I particularly like to be as low maintenance as possible, just chilling when there's time and not stressing out too much.  Elder Burnett is very high maintenance and isn't afraid to tell you that the food that you eat is going to kill you after you just spent thirty minutes preparing it.  It bugs the crap out of me because there are things in him that bother me and then I look at myself and realize that I do the exact same thing and I want to just slap myself and him simultaneously.  I don't like it.  It's probably the best thing for me, because I prayed for the Lord at some point to point out my weaknesses, but he's doing it in a way that I had not expected.  When they say the Lord answers prayers through other people, he means it.  

Well, that's about all that I've got for ya.  Hope I didn't bore your ears off.



Week #28

Hey, I wrote a poem.  Here ya go:

Some people like to judge success
By how far in front of others they can get
But I'm willing to bet
That distance doesn't equal happiness.

Hmmm, I'm not really sure what else to write.  This week has pretty darn monotonous.  Actually, not really monotonous.  The best way I can describe it is like making a smoothie, made throughout the course of an entire week. You throw in your berries, which are sweet and good but when blended up they can't really stand alone.  Throw in a banana to thicken it up, to the point where everything kind of runs slowly and you can't really even tell that the blender is mixing except for the ugly noise that it's making.  Then you have to pour in some milk because it's too thick, and you kind of get a steady flow of things.  And then it's time to throw in the ice, which you would sooner not do, but you have to.  You put the ice in, and at first it doesn't change anything, until it slides down to the bottom and wacks the blade, making the entire liquid jump and making your ears hurt.  If you're not careful, the top comes loose and spews smoothie everywhere, but if you keep a lid on it, it stays nicely confined in its little pitcher.  And then, when the time comes, you can take off the lid and pour it out and savor it's deliciousness.  That's what a mission feels like.

Forgive me for speaking in parables.  If there were real words to describe what a mission is like, I'm not really sure what they are.  Hopefully my smoothie analogy made sense.

Pretty much the entire week was spent making plans for these films that we are going to make.  We begin filming this week after the long and arduous process that Elder Burnett terms "pre-production".  He's very professional.  That step of the process is super important though, so hopefully it gives us a smooth filming schedule for this and the upcoming week.  My guess will be not, simply because nothing good ever comes easy.  There have definitely been some frustrating moments, but it all seems to work out for the most part.  For real, this project we're working on must be inspired, because it's a miracle that this film is being developed by four natural men who have very different personalities and idiosyncrasies.  I think the hardest thing about my mission so far has been developing really good relationships with the people that it is most vital that you do so.  I've always done pretty well in social situations where I only have to spend a short period of time with people, but it's surprising how hard it can be to love someone when you live with them.  I'm definitely going to need to get that one worked out.

We had a really good visit with the Harris family this week.  Brother Harris played basketball all  over the world, so he told us stories about playing in Colombia, Australia, Syria, and some other places, which is super cool.  They have a legit family and are working to get to the temple, so I'm super excited for them.  We also visited with Brother Rod Gorby, a single member who is a recent convert and an organ-playing genius.  It's always fun to go to his house and listen to him play the organ with the scent of burnt veggie-burgers in the air.  He's a great guy and really loves the church.

Well, that's all I got.  I'll be sure to send you the video when we're done, but it might be kind of a while. Patience.

Elder Jon Hendrik Vawdrey

Week #27

Dear Fam,

What the devil, I'm an Uncle!  With a capitol "U"!  I can already sense the imaginary, self-bestowed responsibilities descending upon me.  Being an uncle is the best!  Thanks for all the pictures of little baby Penny, she was super cute and looks just like Calvin.  And I can't wait for when her hair turns a fiery red.  Maybe Addie will give her a perm like she had when she was little.  We'll have a little Annie and Cal can be Daddy Warbucks.

So this week has been nnnuuts.  We were filming some more for this project that we were working on, which is pretty much taking up all of our time.  Elder Buchanan and Jolley moved into their own apartment, so it's just me and good old Elder Burnett living large.  We've had some struggles, since we both still have a ton to learn, but I know it's going to turn out for the best in the end.  

Like I said we did a lot of filming this week, including interviews, scene shooting, and the best one of all, filming a Joseph Smith Presentation in Fort Walton Beach.  Fort Walton Beach is like 3 hours from Tallahassee, so we traveled out there Saturday evening and attended their rehearsal.  It was boss, I got the shivers all over.  President Smith had really wanted us to film this performance since their were quite a few missionaries involved, but there was some issues because the performance was being done in the chapel and normally you're not allowed to film in a chapel.  We mentioned this to President before we traveled there, but he wasn't able to get it taken care of by the time we got there.  So there was a bit of a hubbub about whether or not we would be able to film anything.  President Smith ended up getting special permission from the area seventy, Elder Munns, allowing us to film the presentation.  

So we stayed that Saturday night and the next day we just attended church there and enjoyed the day with the Fort Walton elders.  We filmed at the end of the night and it turned out super good, but it was so late by the time we left that we didn't get back to Tallahassee until 12:30 pm.  So I'm a bit tired.  Earlier this week we also had to wake up at 5 am to go film some elders doing their morning routine, and then we filmed some sisters making breakfast and such.  It's a good thing that Elder Burnett knows a lot actual filming, because I guess my knowledge of it is more conceptual.  It's working out really well.

We also got to help out with a Family History Booth at the FSU game this weekend, which was really cool.  I think by the end of the day we had received about 30 nonmember referrals for missionaries to come back and talk with them.  Super legit.  

Well, I don't have too much more to tell you all.  Thanks for your letters and all the pictures of little baby Penny.  So Cute!  I'm so excited for you, Addie and Cal, you are going to be great parents.  That little fiery angel is going to be so spoiled.


Elder Jon Hendrik Vawdrey

Elder Vawdrey's new niece Penny

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Week #26

Dear Familius,

Good heavens!  I am so excited to be writing you right now!  I'm sorry that my letter was poopy last week; I felt a little poopy, but I'm doing way better now.  

So here's the scuttlebutt.  Still in Florida, still doing some film stuff, still slowly learning a ton about myself, and currently conditioning myself to my new companion.  I'm not sure if I mentioned him last week, but Elder Burnett joined our companionship last week.  We are now in a quad-panionship, which is super epic, except for getting ready in the morning with one bathroom.  We manage pretty well though.

Here are the deets on Elder Burnett.  We're very much alike, but still super different.  We both like film and such, but he's still making plans to go into film, whereas I am not.  It's kind of weirdly deja-vu, because since we're so similar, and he's been out a couple of months less than me, I can look at where he is and realize, "Whoa, I was there at one point and have come a long way."  It can be pretty funny; for example, he doesn't really like it when I sing secular music, but he doesn't want to say it outright, so he just starts whistling hymns.  I usually sing louder, because I'm hoping that he'll lighten up at some point.
 That's nothing on him, there's a bunch of stuff that you learn on a mission but it just comes with time.  I think one of the hardest lessons that I'm still trying to learn is to be comfortable and confident with myself and my own relationship with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ despite the company that I find myself in.  I've noticed that when I'm around negative people, I kind of just go into defense mode, and you can't really love someone if you're trying to point out their problems and justify yourself.  I just want to be comfortable with who I am and speak boldly about how I feel to everybody.

There is one elder in this mission who is just like that, and I look up to him so much.  His name is Elder Musgrave, from Centerville, Utah, and the thing that I love about him is that no matter who you are or what your opinions are, and no matter how little time you spend with him, you feel better about yourself after having spoken with him.   That's the kind of person that I want to be.  It's not too hard when you're around people that you love, but I want to learn to do it for people that I don't necessarily love.  Or maybe you just have to love everyone.  Idunno, like I said, I've got a ways to go.  

We have been working on the video project a lot more.  I am getting super excited about it.  During our zone conference this week, President Smith was talking about more unconventional ways to reach out and do missionary work, such as family history and using technology and such.  It was so exciting I started shaking.  Elder Burnett and I actually went and visited with President and Sister Smith afterwards and laid out all of our ideas for them, and they were excited too.  Everyone's excited!

Elder Burnett has way more experience in film than I do, so I'm super grateful that he is here.  He is having all of his filming equipment shipped out here from Idaho and it should show up in the middle of this week hopefully.  We've been bouncing ideas back and forth, scripting, storyboarding, and all that junk.  We make a good team because I don't really have the expertise to nail down the process of what needs to be done in order to complete a production (which he does have), but I love to imagine and talk about that kind of stuff.  I will definitely send a finished copy as soon as possible.  It should probably be done in about a month, for the big introductory video.

I don't have too many events to share with you all.  I have decided that I want to learn how to play the piano.  Amen.

All of you are fantastic, and I'm so grateful to hear from you.  Living it up at the Brighton Chalets must be super fun.  The stake president mentioned in stake conference the chapel that Grandpa Copier built up by the chalets, so I went and talked to him about it afterwards.  President Burton visited that chapel when Martin Goldstein was playing the piano there, who, by the way, is also in our stake.  

See ya at some point,
Elder Jon Hendrik Vawdrey

PS: I was reading in my journal the other day, and I kind of sounded like a noob.  I'm sorry if I ever subjected y'all to that, please don't hold it against me.


Week #25

It's been good to hear from you and I hope that everything is going well.  From what I can tell it has been super busy and you all have a ton or stuff to do, So I hope you don't go crazy.  

We've been having a good time here.  We just got another companion, Elder Burnett, so we're currently rocking a quad-panionship.  It's pretty crazy since we only have one bedroom and bathroom, but we're doing alright.  Elder Buchanan and Elder Jolley are going to be travelling this week to work on housing for new missionaries, and Elder Burnett and I are going to stay here and work on the video.

I am super glad that Elder Burnett came, because we quickly found that we were basically twins.  We have very similar tastes and get along really well, so we'll have some fun for the rest of this transfer.  I'll send a picture at some point; he's a boss.

Because our quad-panionship has been designated as being office elders, we haven't been able to teach too much, but since there are four of us now we can kind of split up the office work and have half of us go out at a time.  Yesterday Elder Burnett and I went out to find a less-active family that had not been contacted for a while to see what the deal was.  When we went the family invited us in and we were able to eat dinner with them.  It was super good; the first time I've ever had smoked herring and grits.  They don't have grits out west, so I'll have to send some to you, because they're super good.  

I'm sorry that I don't have a ton to report, we've just been working on the video, making preparations for when Elder Burnett's equipment shows up.  He is a lot more involved in film than I am, so he sent home for his camera and some of his stuff and we're going to have some real fun.  When we finish the video, I'm sure that y'all will be able to watch it.

Love you so much,