Monday, January 10, 2011


Note from the editor: We had a big event a few days after Christmas. Tuesday morning about 7am, I looked out the side of our house to see the house on the hill behind us completely engulfed in flames. The owners weren’t home, so everyone was safe, but the home burned to the ground in about 40 minutes. Pretty life changing for that family, and we wish them the best (we don’t know them), but for us it just made for a pretty exciting morning. We were asked to get out of our house quickly in case the fire spread, so we packed up the most important stuff, got dressed, grabbed the dog and drove the car around the corner and stood out in the freezing cold across the street in our neighbor’s yard. We watched the work of several ladder trucks and firemen, along with most of our neighborhood. They let us back in before too long, and we got a couple dramatic pictures in the meantime. We sent a few to Elder Carter and gave him the big update. Now you all know about as much as he did when he typed up this email. On to the Elder!

Bu Hao. I do NOT like that picture in the SLIGHTEST. I don't ever want to look at that picture again. Yikes! I HATE the feeling of seeing something like that and literally being so far away that there is nothing I can do about it. I feel really bad for that family though. That would really stink to be away from home on vacation only to come home to- no home. Makes me want to make sure I have insurance before I even start looking for a house. Don't scare me like that.
 And who cares about the stinkin' lightsaber? It's just a bunch of plastic, glass, and metal put together to make "desperate for a different life" young men think they're Obi-Wan or something. It can burn for all I care.
 Wait. What did I just say? Geez, Dad, how come you didn't run back in to save the day and grab my Universe Protecting Lasersword? If that would've burned... the house would have burned down anyway later when the Sith came and Master Kovi Areus didn't have his lightsaber. But then again, Kael Korran would've come flying in from Mexico and saved the day by throwing me a new lightsaber and him and I leading our new found Force-sensitives into battle. Don't forget Master Cire Snomaes who would come rolling in from Florida with his ... (Elder Stauffer! What are they called again? Mace Windu's race, the dark-skinned Force-sensitives, it starts with a "K" I'm pretty sure...) anyway, Masters Snomaes and Korran, along with Master Areus would still have been able to save the day from the Sith Emperor, Master Silas Miridian. I still wish you would've saved my lightsaber.
 Alright enough with the trunky spell...
This week was AMAZING!! I was sick all week, along with Elder Zhu. We got sick with the flu because we hadn't gone to get shots yet, and President Bishop wasn't very happy with me. I wasn't very happy with me either... oops. But we're ok now. Numbers are down a little, and our spirits were down a bit for a couple days, but we're fired up for a new move call. This is my 6th move call, and Elder Zhu's 4th. And yes, no one is moving. I'm still with Elder Zhu for at least 6 more weeks. My Chinese is flying. This week also witnessed the miraculous baptism of Li Baba!!!!!!!!!!!!! AAAAHAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! The mission is in an uproar!!! There are SEVERAL missionaries who are ecstatic that Li Baba was finally humble enough and prepared enough to enter the waters of baptism. He was baptized by his son, who is a priest. And his Confirmation on Sunday was SO spiritual. The BAPTISM, was UNBELIEVABLE. EVERYONE was in tears. When Li Baba's daughter bore testimony and gave a talk right before he was baptized, oh man, I couldn't help it. Elder Zhu and I were coughing our lungs out, and I was crying my eyes out, and the ward was trying so hard not to burst out bawling, not to mention my trainer Elder Krantz (now Assistant) on exchanges with us in the back with two investigators in attendance.
Those two investigators are a Dad and a Mom. Dad, not so interested, Mom? OH. Mom was pushing to try to get to the front. Right now, Dad says they don't have time and they want to read the Book of Mormon first. So they are not willing to meet with us, but they will be in the future! And one of the Assistants was in attendance at the PERFECT baptism. Not to mention my trainer! He was so excited for me, and so happy that his trainee was able to help this 10-year investigator Father get baptized.
I was extremely overwhelmed. But wonderfully happy. The Li family is complete. They are waiting for the sealing now, and I WILL be in attendance at that temple trip a year from now. Does this accomplish my goal of finding a family? I don't know. It's not what I had in mind, but I don't care. I helped God complete a family. With Elder Zhu as well. Isn't that something eternally beautiful? Li Baba now has the opportunity to return to God's presence. With his family. SIIIIIGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHH. My favorite picture EVER is coming in the mail soon. PROTECT IT, FRAME IT, seal it in with the Mona Lisa, I don't care. I just will NOT lose that picture.
I'm happy to report that it's 2011!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AHHHHHHH!!!!!! What the heck? Where did last year go? I remember calling people for surveys, having a girl visit me almost every night for a week before leaving on my mission, getting in fights with Spanish Elders on the soccer field, fighting with my MTC companions, praying til rivers flooded, my first baptism in the field, my first local companion, my 20th birthday, the next several baptisms, finding Joie at an intersection, from thinking "7months til I call home? Ugh, SOO long!" to "how fast!", going Senior companion, watching Liu Wen Shen enter the waters of baptism, watching Li Baba be baptized by his son and the whole ward trying not to clap, millions of pictures after, several congratulations from other missionaries, a smile from Elder Krantz, a bone-crushing handshake from Li Baba, and several almost hugs from Li Mama and their daughter, to January 1st, 2011. Where does the time go? 2 more move calls, and I'm half-way done.
And who am I now? I'm not being prideful when I say I'm enthralled at the change. Is that not what a mission is all about? Change? For everyone? I am proud of who I've become. But it's because of those around me who helped me start focusing on my God, and my purpose. I've had my mission call for over a year, yes, but I still have over a year left to serve my God with all my TIME TALENTS AND SELF.
Last New Year's I'm pretty sure I was in California, right? Thanks Katie! (Our cousin Katie Guadagnino was in the Rose Parade last year, so because of that, we got to spend New Year’s Eve camped out on the streets of Pasadena. That and watching the parade the next morning…made for some GREAT memories!) You made a great memory! This New Year's? I'm speaking Chinese to random people I may not ever see again. But how many lives have I helped affect? I'll tell you all their names when I get home. But, because this is God's work, I have no way of telling you EVERYONE I've helped affect. I've given thousands of baptismal commitments, taught thousands of lessons, and this isn't MY work. I am only supposed to keep the Commandments (DC 20:11 or DC 11:20 I forget which... lol). This is the Lord's work and I'm just grateful I get to have a part in these people's lives. Forever.
I love you all. Thanks for helping me change. And thanks to the cute girls who keep me going, like my sister and cousins, Katie G., and Calley, and Courtney, and Cathryn, Raquel, Dani....and of course Bailey the Dog. Not to mention all the priesthood brethren who helped me save my own life and rely on Christ to pull me the rest of the way up. Dad. Mike. Bishop Olsen. Bishop Bernards. Kendall. Thank you. There's millions more.
Love you all.
-Elder Carter

EMAIL INFORMATION: This is a TAIZHONG MISSION, MISSION RULE. This does not go for the whole world. I am NOT allowed to read emails from anyone else besides my family. And I'm not allowed to send emails to anyone but Mom, Dad, or Shelby. I need permission for Grandpa Lee and Nana, and Grandpa Carter. If you want to send me an email, it HAS to be through my parents email address. That is the ONLY remaining loophole. Soon to close, I bet. Other missionaries can probably email no problem. It's just THIS mission that is this strict. Thanks!

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