Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Provo MTC: February 28, 2000

Hail, fellow humans!

Sorry 'bout that "other" letter.  I was reading a missionary quote/tip book and it said, "Write your family weekly, not weakly."  That hit me hard.  I wrote you that letter just to get a letter off this week.  This one is in repentance for that lame letter.

Hey, remember all them missionaries with them blue plastic bags going into the MTC?  Well, they were returning from the temple here in Provo.  I've been there every Monday.  I attended three sessions and today we did baptisms.  It was really cool.  I got to confirm Elder Merkley for ten people.  About half of the names were German and the other half were Spanish.  Then, we were asked (we being Elder Merkley and I (by the way, I don't think I've ever seen him before today)) to perform the confirmation for Sister Queen (never seen her before, either).  Then, Elder Merkley and I were witnesses to the baptisms, and then we baptized each other.  Needless to say it was awesome.

The Elders who were the assistants to the branch president left for México this morning.  Elders Ball and Holt are their replacements.  Neato, no?

Elder Miller's parents are Layne and Tammy Miller.  They live at [ed: sorry, not gonna print that here].  It's a blue dome house.  Their phone number is [ed: nope, not putting that here, either].

My little Ninja Bear is getting a lot of action.  He's really fun to squeeze (so he does his ninja voice thing) and then toss at the other elders.  It took them four weeks to figure out how to throw him back.  I really love my Ninja Bear.  Don't tell him I said that, though.  He tried to strangle me last time I said it.

I have an awesome script to share with you.  It's 3 Nefi 5:13 [tr: 3 Nephi 5:13].
He aqui, soy discipulo de Jesucristo, el Hijo de Dios.  He sido llamado por el para declarar su palabra entre los de su pueblo, a fin de que alcancen la vida eterna.
[tr: Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  I have been called of him to declare his word among his people, that they might have everlasting life.] 
Speaking of scriptures, I bought a Book of Mormon today.  Well actually, it's a Mormon Kuatiañe'ê Pehengue [tr: Book of Mormon].  That's Guaraní, Paraguay's second official language.  It's not the entire Book of Mormon, but most of the importantestest parts are there.  It's really cool.

Well, my Book of Mormon study time is drawing near, so I'd better close.  Love ya all, and thanks for everything!


PS Like the card, Mom?

Alma 29:9,13

"And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." --Matthew 4:19

Provo MTC: February 26, 2000

Hi fam!

Wheee!  Cookies!  Yum yum!  Uh, sorry.  I kinda lost control there for a second.  Okay, now I don't remember what I was gonna write.  I guess I'll just go into general stuffs.

Things are going well.  Spanish is coming along just fine.  Nobody's eaten anyone else in mi cuarto [tr: my room].  Food's pretty good.  It ain't no home cookin', but it's better than starving, ya know?  One problem, though.  There's all the time an... shall we say "unique?" aroma in here.  Ooo boy yum yum.  Cookies!  Oops, lost my train of thought again.  I'm really scatterbrained hoy [tr: today].

Oh!  Hey Mom!  I've been sleeping on the same sheet for three and a half weeks!  Aren't you proud?  Wait.  I forgot the key point.  I've washed it every Saturday.  My feet smell.  Just thought I'd share that with ya.

Okay, I'm starting to get even weirder than usual.  I'll just be done then. ¡Chao!  [tr: Bye!]


PS  Yea, I'm still Joe.

Oh!  Flip this over!  →

It seems I am able to receive email.  I'm unable to send, though.  This groovy thingy is done at  You'll need my name, mailbox number, mission name, and departure date.  Also, you gotta them 'em your name and email address.  Anyone can do it and as often as you want.

In case you forgot...

My name: Joseph D. Simper
My mission name: Paraguay Asunción (NOT North)
My departure date: April 4
My mailbox number: 198
Your name: Um... if you forgot this, you need help

The other elders in my district.
Back; left to right: Liechty, Skiff, Bell, Marx.
Front; left to right: Warner, Palmer.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Provo MTC: February 11, 2000

Hey fam!

Thanks for all the great stuff!  I really didn't understand what Laura [note: my first cousin] said about receiving stuff here, but I do now.  It's a really great feeling.  Now, what's this about "Do not open until February 14th", huh?  Huh?  What's the point of getting mail if I can't open it?  Arg!  Of course, I'm just joking.  I'm really grateful for all the stuffs.  And I'll even wait 'til Arizona turns 88 to open the card.  Thanks a lot!


PS  Yes, Mom.  You can send food stuffs!  (Hint, hint)

PPS  Oh, yeah.  I'm doing just fine here, with the exception of a mild cold.  Learning is going good.

PPPS  It's okay to send candy and stuff.

PPPPS  Sorry this one's so short, but I gotta get to class.

PPPPPS  Can you send me Eldon's address? [note: high school buddy who was serving his mission in Korea at the time]

Monday, May 18, 2015

Provo MTC: February 6, 2000

Dear all,

I was going to wait until probably Friday to write you again, but I had an experience today that just can't wait.

We had testimony meeting today.  I didn't get up and bear my own testimony, but most of the elders in my room did.  Every one of expressed a great love for the rest of us in the room.  I didn't know it until then, but, even after only a few days, I love them more than myself.

That got me thinking.  If I can feel this much love for these five men after only having knowing them for five days, how much does the Savior love us?  The sheer enormity of the concept was amazing, but what I felt was even more powerful.

I have been crying for the past hour.  The Spirit of the Lord has undoubtedly wrapped itself around me and won't let me go.  And I don't want it to.  Elder Miller saw me crying and asked what was wrong.  I pointed to a paper I had taped to my closet.  Then, I told him I had never been happier in my life.  On this paper I copied the hymn, "I Stand All Amazed" and John 15:13.  "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man should lay down his life for his friends."

Before I came here to the MTC, I knew in my head that Jesus Christ loves me.  Now, I know it in my heart.  I testify to you that he loves you as well.  He gave his life for you, so that you would be able to live with him again.  I also want you to know that I love each and every one of you as well.

I can't wait to get to Paraguay.  The people there need to hear this message, and I want to be the one who brings it to them.  I want my brothers and sisters to return with me to live with Christ and Heavenly Father for all eternity.  Please share this with everyone you know.


I Stand All Amazed

I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me.
Confused at the grace that so fully he proffers me.
I tremble to know that for me he was crucified,
That for me, a sinner, he suffered, he bled and died.

I marvel that he should descend from his throne divine
To rescue a soul so rebellious and proud as mine.
That he would extend his great love unto such as I.
Sufficient to own, to redeem and to justify.

I think of his hands pierced and bleeding to pay the my debt.
Such mercy, such love, can I forget?
No, no, I will praise and adore at the mercy seat,
Until at the glorified throne I kneel at his feet.

Oh, it is wonderful that he should care for me
Enough to die for me!
Oh, it is wonderful, wonderful to me!

"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man should lay down his life for his friends." -- John 15:13

Provo MTC: February 3, 2000

Hey family!

Day one is over.  It was a little hectic, but I didn't get lost too much.  At least, I don't think I did...  Did I?  Uh... right.

My companion is Elder Miller.  He was called to the Paraguay Asunción mission also.  But that isn't the really neat/weird part.  He is from Joseph City.  [note: Joseph City is about 15 miles from my home.]  We haven't been together for a full day yet, but I think that we'll work well together.

Other news of questionable value: I forgot soap and shampoo in the van.  Oops.  I'll have to stop by the book store and pick some up.  An interesting note about the bookstore (well, interesting to me): it sells a lot more than books, so it's not very aptly named.

The elders in my room are pretty cool so far.  Four of us, including myself and Elder Miller, are off to the Paraguay Asunción mission.  The other two elders are going to the New York Rochester mission, speaking Spanish.

This morning was kinda funny.  Each one of use has an alarm clock, and none of them were set for the same time.  It sure helped me to get up, even though I wasn't able to sleep until about midnight or so.  I hope that I'll be able to overcome this little problem of mine.  If not, I'm going to be very tired.  I feel okay right now, but I've only been up for about an hour.

The food was pretty good, and there was plenty of it.  I wasn't able to finish it all, though I came close.

Elders Thomas and Pribyl are reading the Bible right now.  I'm quite impressed by them.  They discuss the chapters between them.  I never even thought about doing that.

Well, I don't think I've got any more stuffs to talk about.  I'd say I done pretty good for only having a couple of hours to write about.


The Call: November 23, 1999

Dear Elder Simper:

You are hereby called to serve as a missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  You are assigned to labor in the Paraguay Asuncion Mission.  It is anticipated that you will serve for a period of 24 months.

You should report to the Missionary Training Center at Provo, Utah on Wednesday, 2 February 2000.  You will prepare to preach the gospel in the Spanish language.
You have been recommended as one worthy to represent the Lord as a minister of the restored gospel.  You will be an official representative of the Church.  As such, you will be expected to maintain the highest standards of conduct and appearance by keeping the commandments, living mission rules, and following the counsel of your mission president.

You will also be expected to devote all your time and attention to serving the Lord, leaving behind all other personal affairs.  As you do these things the Lord will bless you and you will become an effective advocate and messenger of the truth. We place in you our confidence and pray that the Lord will help you meet your responsibilities in fulfilling this sacred assignment.

The Lord will reward you for the goodness of your life.  Greater blessings and more happiness than you have yet experienced await you as you humbly and prayerfully serve the Lord in this labor of love among His children.

Please send your written acceptance promptly, endorsed by your bishop.

(signed) Gordon B. Hinckley

The Setup

Fifteen years ago, I was eighteen, about a month away from nineteen.  I had just gotten out of the shower to get ready to work at the Shell gas station on the other end of town.  I hadn't even finished getting dressed when my mom knocked on my bedroom door.  I opened the door, and she was holding a large, white envelope, probably about 9" x 12".  Emblazoned across the center was my full name: JOSEPH DANIEL SIMPER.  I never use my full name.  In fact, I sometimes forget that my first name is actually Joseph.  In the upper left corner, printed on the envelope: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Office of the First Presidency.

I had received a call to serve for two years as a missionary for the Church.  I knew it was coming, since I had had to apply for it, but seeing that envelope still felt surreal.  I took the envelope from my mom, said, "thanks", and made as if to close the door.  An exasperated "Joseph!" elicited a giggle from me, and then I tore it open...