Monday, September 26, 2016

Week 2 -- Jumping for Joy

Monday last week was crazy!! We went shopping and got food and for the most part it was the same stuff, it just has different names. In all the shopping malls they play American music so I love going shopping now to listen to it. haha We got our food and headed off the get hair cuts but I guess every hair place closes down on Mondays to have a long weekend!! So we had to get permission to get one on Tuesday. Tera Larson is definitely the best at cutting hair. It looks good but not great.

One of the hard things about this place is they are on the wrong side of the road so when we bike around everything is backwards and I look the wrong way when crossing roads and stuff. There have been some close calls but my comp is there to save me. Also the bike breaks are switched so the left stops the back and the right stops the front. So when I almost crash into a car and slam on my break, I usually do a huge stoppy and almost flip because it is switched. So I am either going to die by hitting a car or by seeing the car and trying to stop but doing a front flip into it. Haha I am getting the hang of it and probably won’t hit any cars. So don’t worry mom ;)

Most of the week is spent door knocking because we are new in the area. Some people are really mean still but people are starting to recognize us as we ride down the street. That is fun. We found an old investigator that is ready to be baptized but since the missionaries left she didn’t know how so we found her and have started working with her to get her baptized. So I will have my 1st baptism on hopefully November 19th. She smokes and is having a hard time giving that up. We found a nice family named Andrew and Brooke with a baby named Tobias. We found them door knocking and they wanted us to come back and give them a lesson. So we went back and started talking and he was really interested. He had lots of questions and agreed with what we were telling him. I gave him the Book of Mormon that my primary in the Highland 7th ward gave to me to give out. He really loved it and started reading. We planned for a 30 minute lesson but he was so interested we ended up teaching for 2 hours and since I am new, my comp had me do ALL the teaching. He would talk every once in awhile but it was mostly me. At the end of our lesson we started talking about baptism, I shared a scripture about following Gods example and before I could even ask him if he wanted to get baptized he ask me, "Can I get baptized?" I was in complete shock!! The spirit was strong in the lesson but I didn’t think he would comprehend what we said. Well he did and he is going to get baptized hopefully Nov. 19 with Kae. They both smoke and he has to get married first but they are already going to get married so that won’t be a problem!! When we left we invited them to church and they came the next day so I have big hopes for them!! The wife is still unsure of baptism but I am hoping to baptize her with her husband. When we left and got down the road a few blocks I jumped off my bike and jumped with joy!!! I was so excited!!! It was the coolest experience ever!!!! To be able to share the gospel with a lost child of God!! During the lesson he said,” I am the lost sheep and now God has found me.” He is seriously the best investigator and is so interested!!!!!!!

Life is so good and I am doing amazing!! I was feeling down last week realizing what I got myself into but I read a talk about being a consecrated missionary and that changed everything.

The weather is really hot and humid! By the time I walk down the driveway I am coved in sweat!! People tell us all the time that this is spring weather. So I am probably going to die of heat in "summer" weather. I have a nice big aussie hat that keeps me from getting sunburned so that is nice.

Even though it is a million degrees out it snows every night. Burdiken Valley snow that is. Since we are surrounded by sugar cane fields we get coved in all the black ash from when they burn the fields to harvest. White shirts and black snow don’t go well together so we avoid going out when it is "snowing". haha I love it though and we are having such a good time.

My comp and I are getting along much better now that we are having success. He is from the Philippines but lives in Australia. He is 25 and has been a convert for 2 years. One thing that is really weird is that he is engaged. Since he is so old he had a girlfriend back home and they were engaged before he decided to serve. I guess she is Mormon too so they are just waiting until he gets back to get married. Dear John. haha I am just expecting the letter. Haha he is great though and we are doing so much better then the first week. He still says stuff that drives me CRAZY but he is a nice guy and I just brush it off or do something to take my mind off him.

We are heading to Charters Towers on Wednesday and it is a completely new area so we have to start over again completely but I am excited. On the drive to Townsville I saw a bunch of kangaroos and got so excited to finally see some!! Today for P day we are going to Billibong. A place where you can hold kangaroos and other rare exotic animals so I will send lot of pic next P day!!

Thanks for all the prayers!!

Love, Elder Cahoon

Monday, September 19, 2016

The Adventures Begins . . .The First Week in Australia

Oh man what a week. I couldn't write about my last week in the MTC because I flew out on my P-Day. The week was good and I grew so much. The MTC was a great experience and I made some life long friends. 

On Tuesday morning we woke up at 4 am to say goodbye to our district members going to Florida. They will be missed so much. They are going to be great missionaries. My flight didn’t leave until 2:00 in the afternoon so we went back to bed and then went to class until it was time to get to the travel office for our flight. 

At the travel office I was told I could pick up my passport but they did not have it and I did not know where it was. So in a panic the MTC tried to find where it went. I thought I was not going to be going to AUS that day. But they eventually found out my parents had it and I was able to get on a bus and have my parents bring it to me at the airport. It was fun but sad to see them one last time. I was the travel leader so I had to get all 7 missionaries to AUS safely. 

My wonderful dad gave us money to get Cafe Rio before we boarded the plane. Everybody loves him now and we had a great meal. 

In the airport we found where our plan was and when it was boarding. But when it was time to board 3 sisters were not there. So I was running around the whole airport looking for them. I couldn’t find them and the plan was leaving so I ran back and they were just getting on the plan. Ah it was so good to see them and that we all were on our way. It was a 2 hour flight to LA and in the LA airport the 3 sisters ran off again and we had to look for them. Haha it was a crazy day but we all made it on the 747 and had a 14 hour plane ride to Bisbane. Everybody sat next to each other and we all slept for 11 hours strait so the plan ride was not bad at all.

We landed and got our stuff and started looking for the mission president. We saw him and I ran up and gave him a big hug. It was so good to see him and he took us all to his home to figure everything out. The drive there was really scary because we were on the "wrong side". It is going to be weird getting used to that. I was told that I would be driving that day to my area. That made me super scared!! But we got to the mission home had lunch and got settled. 

We had a meeting and found out who our comps are. It was sad to say goodbye to Elder Hansen and Johnson and Sister Day but I was excited to meet my new comp. They called his name and looked around and he was not there. 

I then was told I would be getting on another plane to go to my area. So I packed up my bags and was told I only could have one bag so I had to unpack and repack to fit it all in one. I made my flight and flew to Townsville. I met my comp and 2 other elders. They were all nice and really helpful. We drove to the flat and it was covered in bugs and smelled terrible. There were only 3 beds and I had to sleep on the floor!! It was terrible. 

The next morning I woke up and a senior couple pick us up and drove us to our area. I am in a little town called Ayr (pronounced air). And it sucks!! It’s hot, small, and dirty. Oh well. They don’t have a house here for us so we are currently living in a room in the church. It is not terrible but not amazing. Oh well. We stay here for two weeks and then go to Charters Towers for two weeks and switch back and fourth. It is going to be a pain. Oh well I am here for a reason.

My comps name is Elder Cadiang. He was born in the Philippines and grew up in Australia. I thought at first he was a cool guy but we do not get along to well. I am trying my best to give him a good shot. It is hard though. He does things his own way and I am not used to it. He is a convert and has been a member for two years so when we door knock he says stuff I would never say. He is a hard worker though and we get stuff done.

The area we are at is called Ayr and missionaries haven’t been here for 10 or so years so we have nothing to go on and nothing to do except knock and talk to people. I have been rejected hard already. But some people have been really nice.

Most of the day is spent knocking or talking with people. The branch has 10 people in it and 5 of them are one family so it is TINY!!!!!!! The people are so nice even though they are so small.

We had our first lesson with a boy named Jackson and his friend and sister. They were interested and we are going to see them again so that was really fun. Grandpa Cahoon will be proud because I love talking to people. Everybody I meet I just talk and get to know. It is super fun and I see why he loves it. Aussies love to talk so we ask a question and then listen for a long time.

It has been a good first week and I tried vegemite for the first time. It is terrible.

I will be more organized in the next email, I am just really rushed today. My comp doesn’t let us look at emails during the week so I have to read and then write.

So for this next week keep them sorta short and full of questions.

Oh I forgot to say . . .

Everybody here has a dog in their yard because there are a lot of robbers. When we door knock we usually whistle and make sure we're are not going to get attacked if we go in that person's yard. Most of the dogs are friendly, but there are some mean dogs that look like they could rip you up. We usually skip those house. We have not been chased yet but it is bound to happen. Haha I hope I am faster than my comp.

At least we know he won't starve!

It didn't take him long to find a helicopter!
 Sugar cane fields - watch out for the 
poisonous cane toads!
Sugar Cane
 A man gave him this fruit while he was out tracking.  We think it is Papaya!

Super nice members fed me PIZZA!

1st Investigators

The field is white already to harvest.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Letter from Elder Cahoon's mission president

Dear Cahoon Family,

We are delighted to report that your son, Elder Cahoon, arrived safely at the mission home in Brisbane, Australia! Your son is an impressive man filled with the missionary spirit; we are thrilled that he will be serving with us in this great mission. Elder Cahoon has an excellent trainer, Elder Cadiang, and they will learn much serving together in the Rockhampton Zone.

This Zone is a plane ride away. We put him on a plane last night. Because of this his companion was not able to come to Brisbane to get him. We apologize for not having a picture of him with his companion. Hopefully he will send one to you. This area is up North, and we send only the best missionaries there, and all want to go there. We pray it will be the perfect place for Elder Cahoon. That is where the the Lord wanted him to go.

You should be receiving an email each week from your missionary, and he should be receiving one from you as well. Though they are immersed in the work, they do miss home, and a loving letter from family is comforting and reassuring. We are grateful for your support of us and as an expression of our gratitude and appreciation, we have created a webpage for you to follow:

We will post pictures of our missionaries and will do our best to capture all that is happening in our mission; especially the missionaries' joys and successes as they labor in the Lord’s vineyard. As they email us pictures of their baptisms, we will post those as well.

We are so happy and humbled to be able to serve the Lord along with your son, Elder Cahoon. Great blessings are in store for not only your missionary, but family at home as well. We know that you will experience marvelous blessings as you support your son while he serves the Lord honorably and obediently on his mission. We pray for the Lord's blessings upon you, your missionary and his other loved ones.


President & Sister McSwain
Australia Brisbane Mission

I looked up Spencer's companion on their mission website - here's a tiny picture.

My bet is that his companion is a new district leader in the city of Townsville East.  We'll have to see when we get an email from him.  Spencer will be stoked as it is right on the ocean and has a red rock little mountain that I'm sure he'll climb called Castle Hill!

I've never seen an outdoor baptismal font! Pretty awesome!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Passport. . . .What Passport?

Monday we got a call from the MTC about 2:00 in the afternoon saying that they didn't have Spencer's passport.  We were sure they had to have it because we thought we had mailed it in with his visa application and we don't remember getting it back.  But luckily we found it with all of our other passports.  We arranged to meet Spencer at the airport at 4:15 so we could give him his passport. Pretty embarrassing that we didn't send him to the MTC with it, but what a great excuse to see him.

We got to the airport and waited by the Trax station.  There was another family there waiting to see their missionary too.  It was so fun to see him.  He looked so happy and excited to be a missionary.  He told us that a little girl pointed to him and told her mom, "There's a missionary." Spence was so excited to hear that and said it is really started sinking in that he is a real missionary.  He honestly looked happier that I have ever seen him.  We were with him for about 45 minutes but it was a little crazy watching them get their boarding passes and their bags checked in.  They were in a group of 7 missionaries, but there were several other groups of missionaries so it really was crazy.  We walked down to security and had to say our good byes.  It wasn't nearly as hard as when we dropped him off at the MTC.  A few tears were shed, but not bad.  Ben gave Spence a $100 to take his group of missionaries to Cafe Rio in the airport.  And then after they ate Spencer called us.

Missionaries are allowed to call home while they are at the airport.  We had bought Spence a cheap phone that had minutes on it.  It was so much fun talking to him.  We connected Emmy to the call.  Jacob was at a soccer game so he missed talking to him this first phone call.  Spencer told us story after story of the MTC.  He talked about all the fun things his district did, but he also said that he actually liked the missionary lessons and felt that was the first time in his life that he really wanted to learn and wanted to study.  Wow!  What happened to our Spencer.  He said that he takes tons of notes and writes in his journal a lot.  He set a goal in the MTC to talk to five new people everyday.  He even tried talking to people that he normally wouldn't talk to.  He said that was awesome and he made a ton of new friends.  We said our good byes for a little while and arranged for him to call again when he landed in LA.

He called again at 9:30 pm.  This time Jacob was there.  We connected Emmy and then got to hear more about his experiences.  He really sounded happy and thrilled with his district.  While we were talking he and the other two elders were looking for the sister missionaries.  Spencer was the travel leader and he had lost the sisters.  They found them and then waited for their plane.  We talked until 10:45 and then had to say good bye.  Again it was hard, but nothing like the MTC drop off.  We are so proud of him and the missionary he has already become.  We can't wait to get his next letter hearing all about his travels and first week in Australia.

 Spencer with his companion Elder Hanson.

 Big hugs for Ashton.

Saying hello was much more fun than saying good bye.

 This is one of the sister missionaries that is traveling with Spencer.  
They are both standing up in this picture!

Spencer's actual plane.

Ben looked up Spencer's flight in the morning and he was about half way.  
He lands at 3:00 p.m. our time.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

2nd Week in the MTC - Bed Bugs and Bats, Oh My!

This week was really good! My companion and I get along really well. We never really have any trouble with wanting to do something that the other person doesn’t want to do. We are always talking and growing closer. This week we both sort of came out of the initial awkwardness, so now it has just been getting better. When our district first met, we were all shy and uncomfortable around each other. But now we have all opened up and are all best friends. We have so much fun during free time talking and getting to know everyone better. We always go play basketball and mess around having so much fun. They are all the best!!!!. Each week we get a new D.L and Z.L so last week our D.L was Elder Williams. He was really good and kept us on track. This week it is Elder Johnson (he looks like the guy from Twilight, Taylor Lautner) He and Elder Williams are companions so they help and learn off each other since they both have now been D.Ls. Our Z.Ls last were Elders Cook and Powell. They went to Colorado this Monday so they woke everyone up at 4:20 in the morning to do laundry.

Everyday we wake up at 6:05 and shower then meet our district in our classroom so we can go to breakfast. We like to eat together so we can talk. From breakfast we go to class for 3 hours and this week we had Brother Syume teach us along with Sister Zonner. They are both really good teachers and we all learned so much. During class we have 45 minutes to do a TRC. This is when we teach an investigator. We got back ground info on the guy (Bubba) who we are teaching. He is from California. He grew up in the gang life. His dad was killed when he was 3 and his mom marred again but to another gang member. Bubba married a girl from Utah who is Mormon and wants to know more about our church. We taught him 3 times and they all sort of went well. On our last lesson we sort of broke through to him but at the end we found out he is already Mormon and was acting like his old self, before he was converted. He has a really powerful story and I was so glad I got to know and teach this man. He has a Mormon message called Gang Member to Good Man, By His Grace. Go watch it. That is who I taught and learned from. It was really fun.

Since I worked at Health Catalyst and sat for so long I have gotten used to it in the classroom. We do so much sitting and listening but I have actually enjoyed it!! I have learned so much and have grown so much. The lessons we learn are helpful and straight to the point. I don’t find anything hard. Every one was saying the MTC is the hardest part, but I don't find anything hard except waking up. Other than that I have been having a really good time. My whole district hates when I see people I know because whenever we walk somewhere I usually see 4-5 people that I know and say “Hi” to. Most of my district doesn’t know anyone here so when I know everyone they get jealous. Ha ha ha it is fun.

At first the food wasn’t bad but you just hit a point where you are sick of it and want to die.

I have to go do laundry so I will tell you more later today.

Ok laundry is in and being cleaned. They made it easy. On the washing machine it is simple. Colors, garments, white shirts. So I haven’t had to worry about messing up yet.

Right after I emailed last week we went to our dorm to go to bed and right when we laid down some kids in another room yelled, “We have bed bugs!!!” We jumped out of our beds to go see. They definitely had bed bugs and then room after room looked to see if they did. Our whole floor had them except for my room and the other elders in our district’s room!! So everyone was evacuated the next day and had to clean like crazy. When we called the front desk telling them that people had bed bugs they said, “Ah it’s late so just sleep in them tonight.” Most guys were out in the hallway all night. They had biohazard bags and bug spray and all this cleaning stuff. My district was glad that we didn’t have them.

A few days later the sisters in our district had to move to a whole new building because their whole dorm had been taken over by bats. Some girls got bit right before they were going to leave and now have to stay at the MTC one more week to get tested for rabies. So that day the guys had to go and move all the sisters’ stuff to another dorm. You can see bats flying all around the building, it was pretty funny. The day they found the bats we had a devo in the big gym, but it started a little late because a bat flew in through the door and they had to catch it. It was a really good devo. It was Chad Lewis and he talked about the NFL and Lone Peak and stuff. It was fun. He brought his family and I know some of his kids from seminary and I got to say hi to them.

We spend a lot of time studying outside. The air is nice and cool and we can see the tress changing colors. All the elders from Arizona in our district love the cool weather so we spend a lot of time outside.

The time is flying by now. That first day feels like forever ago and now there are new elders and we are the ones who get to say welcome to the MTC. The food lines get crazy long when the new elders come on Wednesday but on Monday and Tuesday they are super short because the old elders leave. This last Wednesday was crazy and we spent our whole lunchtime waiting in line just to get the food. The lunch people are so slow putting the food on the plate and most people take two the first time through because the line is way to long to come back and get more. So it takes forever to get food. With all the packages that everyone gets we are loaded up on food! All 8 elders get packages everyday and so we have piles of snacks and junk food in our rooms. If we are not sick of the MTC food we are sick from all the snacks we eat.

Last week our district went and bought CTR rings, not the simple green ones but cool ones made from carbon fiber and stuff. I got one that is silver with a blue CTR and the top of the T goes around the whole ring. It looks super cool. With the rings we do a cool trick and roll it through our fingers kinda like the poker chip trick with a ring on the bottom of the fingers. It is a fun little trick/tradition that other elders taught us. It is cool.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

First Week in the MTC

As soon as you dropped me off we walked into a building and they said go here, then here, then here, and we will meet you here. I was so confused and scared. I finally made it to my room and right as I dropped my stuff off my host said ok time for class. We got to the room and I was the first one there so I just sat alone for like 5-10 minutes wondering what was going on. Slowly other people showed up. I was curious to meet my companion. He came late but seems like a pretty cool guy. His name is Owen Hanson from Texas. He has jeeped the white rim trail and likes to do a lot of the stuff I do, minus the winter stuff because of living in Texas. He is quiet but I like him. It is weird always having to be with him. We got separated in the lunchroom and panicked because we couldn’t find each other. It was pretty funny.

Everyday it is the same thing, wake up at 6, shower, eat, go to class for 3 to 4 hours then lunch then back to class until 9:30. So most of it is just sitting in a chair all day. I am really good at it because of Health Catalyst. I don’t mind it and it’s not very hard. It can just get really boring sometimes.

We have 8 elders and 4 sisters. All the elders are really fun and nice, and so are the sisters. We are a really close district. Last night we had 2 free hours and ended up staying in our classroom watching Mormon Messages. Everybody was crying and laughing. It was the one of the best nights so far.

I realized I brought everything I needed hygiene wise except for toothpaste. Haha. So the first night I had to borrow some. They have a store that has everything so I got some.

Most days we have and hour of exercise time and we usually play basketball. I wore my LP shirt and some people asked if I knew Frank Jackson. They were very jealous that I had seminary with him.

I saw Walker and Derek and they are doing good. I see tons of guys and girls from LP and that is really fun to talk with them.

I am scared. They had us teach a few investigators already and none of them went well. On our first one he told us we sounded like salesmen so that was frustrating and the next two just contradicted everything we said. It’s hard and I am struggling like crazy!

As a district we go to class and have all our meals together and hang out in our classroom talking and watching Mormon Messages. We don't do much because we don't have a lot of free time. We do play basketball when we can and that is fun. We did have a bunch of hidden messages in our room and they were fun to find.

We had a devotional on Sunday and the guy that talked was the guy that wrote Preach My Gospel. It was really good and we have another one tonight so I’m excited to go to that.

My branch president is brother Switzler from our ward back home. He is really good and the and his wife both loved to see me. They took pictures to show you. We can’t figure out how to upload photos but once we do I will send some.

Haha oh the food. It is not bad but it is not good. In all the bathroom stalls on the walls it says funny stuff like “this food is killing me.” It has not really bothered me but every once in awhile I will feel gross or have a stomachache.

We had subways yesterday and when Elder Dore went to get some water Sister Day took his sandwich and dumped a TON of salt on it. When he came back he opened it up looked at in and then put some sauce on it. He didn’t even notice the salt and took a huge bite and immediately tasted the salt and we all starting laughing so hard!!!! It was the funniest thing ever.

We also found out that a kid brought laxative and some how gave it to a whole district on Saturday and they were all sick and in the bathroom all day. That one was funny to us because we didn’t do it, but the MTC president is really mad. Sorta crazy that that happened.

I don’t know what to write because so much happens everyday. So email me questions.

Mom made a banner out of all of Spencer's cute missionary pictures.

Packed up and ready to go!

We had to fit both Spencer's suitcases and Emmy's college stuff in the back of Ben's car. It was hard enough dropping off Spencer at the MTC, but we had it double hard dropping Emmy at her college dorm right after dropping him off. I guess that's what happens when you have twins!

We drove to the Provo temple to have our last family picture for two years and to say our goodbyes.

We only had two minutes to say goodbye at the MTC. You pull up to the curb, unload, and say goodbye. It all happens so quick! 

Jake and Spence

Ashton had a rough time.

Our twinnies! They've done everything together up until now. 

Spencer and his companion, Elder Hanson from TX.

Spencer's district

Spencer with Walker Wolfgramm, an old friend from our Pleasant Grove neighborhood.

District with the Sisters