Monday, January 16, 2017

Amy's birthday, trip to Nick and Kayla's Wedding, Zions National Park...

Our little girl turned 17 this week--how did that happen so fast?

Amy's friends, Olivia, Rosie, and Kayla, got her out of bed at 5:00 am for a birthday breakfast surprise at Denny's.  

It snowed and snowed and snowed, so she got to stay home from school on her birthday.  
Then in the evening...

17 Things We LOVE About Amy…

1.  Amy has an easy-to-get-along-with personality and is pleasant to be with. She has many deep friendships.
2.  She is quick to forgive and is willing to give second, third, fourth, etc. chances; she is tolerant.
3. She is beautiful on the inside and out.
4. She is sensitive to others, considerate and kind.
5.  She is a great friend and big sister to Luke and he loves being with her. She cares about and works well with those who have special needs.
6. Amy is persistent and diligent at keeping at it when things get difficult.
7.  She has set some worthwhile goals for herself and is busy working towards them.
8.  She has a great sense of style.
9.  Amy is an amazing cook and she enjoys making all kinds of delicious things.
10.  If there is something Amy wants to learn how to do, she looks up a Youtube video and learns how to do it!
11. She is willing to help out when asked.
12. Amy loves the gospel and her Young Women’s leaders.
13. She is adventurous and is always up for a good road trip or going on hikes, etc.
14. She is a shopper and especially loves to go shopping with mom or friends.
15.  Amy has always been excited to be a mother from the time she was very young and is amazing with kids.  They always adore you!
16. Amy has a desire to do what is right and seeks after things that are virtuous, lovely, of good report and praiseworthy.
17. Thank you, Amy for being the best daughter two parents could ever ask for or imagine--We love you very much!

Amy wanted to go to a Mexican restaurant to celebrate, so we took her to dinner at Los Hermonos.

She had fried ice cream for her birthday cake.

Love you, Amy Stout—HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!

On Friday we got in the car and drove to Arizona for Nick and Kayla's wedding.  Amy drove the first five or six hours.  We stayed in Flagstaff overnight and then headed over to Aunt Bonnie and Uncle Steve's house in the morning. It was rainy, but cleared up just before we arrived and we even saw a big beautiful rainbow! They fed us a delicious lunch and we had a nice visit.

Tim and Amy picked out some flowers for them

They have a huge lemon tree in their backyard and they were so kind to load us up with two big bags of large, organic lemons.  Luke peeled and ate one right there.  He loves lemons!
Next, we changed and headed over to the Gilbert Temple for Nick and Kayla's wedding.

The Gilbert Temple is breathtakingly beautiful.  The stained glass windows have different versions of the agave plant (vines, small buds, full grown flowers, etc).  And of course there are also live agave plants growing on the grounds.

We met up with our Oklahoma relatives and had a joyous reunion.

The sealer spoke about the importance of setting goals and of keeping the commandments and doing what is right because that is what builds the faith you need to get through life. 


After the wedding, we went to Pheonix for the wedding reception

Then we went to Tim's cousin, Mindy Evan's house.  
Aaron was at WoodBadge for the weekend, but we had a nice visit with Mindy and the kids.
We attended church with them.  The meeting was on missionary work.

Hanging in the kitchen...I want one!

This was hanging in her kitchen.  I want to make one for mine!

Then we drove to Kanab and stayed the night.

The next morning, we went to Zion's National Park

There were lots of cool tunnels.

As for Todd...

Hello family!!

I want to start this email by saying that me and John are STILL COMPANIONS!!!
I was way worried about whether we were going to go another transfer or
not, actually.. We didn't think our time was up just yet, but then
every single other missionary we met asked Elder Stout where he
thought he'd go next transfer.. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. I have no idea why
everyone was convinced that he was leaving! But, now I want to tell a
beautiful story.

So, we had our... English is hard. Sorry, me and Elder Stout have been
speaking in only Japanese lately, so this may be rough. めんせつ, (Dad,
please translate) with President Nagano, and.. It was great. So, he
basically told me about all of our investigators, because he is
watching our area super intently. Then, he said "Elder Stout, we are
seeing more progress in your area this last transfer then we saw in
Niigata last year. If everything goes the way it's seeming to go, then
you'll see the same number of baptisms as last year too. I can't say I
have ever seen a companionship with such great unity, and that leads
me to believe that Companionship unity is among the most important 
traits for missionary work to be successful."
President Nagano continued to say that he was considering transferring
me, because usually trainees only stay with their senior companion
until they are done with the training program. But me and John's
success made him think about it more and pray more, and so I am
staying! He said John will probably finish off his mission in Sanjo!!
We are obviously way happy about this. He basically spent the majority
of the interview praising me and him, it was awesome. Totally
different from what I expected, and DEFINITELY different from normal
interviews. That being said, President Nagano is definitely expecting
results this transfer, so I am going to send a list of people I think
WILL be baptized this transfer, and ask that y'all pray about them..
If that is okay.

We have other investigators, but most of these ones either have a
date, or will probably be baptized in the next 6 weeks.

In response to Mom.. I am sure I will have difficult companions, but I
am happy to say I will probably keep in touch with this one the most,
and I am also happy to say that I have spent every day laughing and
joking, being totally stress free and seeing plenty of success. We are
living the missionary high life.

Tell Nick congratulations!!!! That is so awesome!!! That is also a way
gorgeous temple. 

We CAN read emails in the week, and it's probably a missionaries
favorite thing to do during lunch and dinner. I LOVED reading that
letter and seeing those pictures!! THANK you for sending them!!! I am
sorry that work has been tough.. if anyone can do it, dad can. I want
you to take heart, and know that I literally brag about my dad daily
out here. You can ask John when he gets home, I literally talk about
how awesome my dad is DAILY. I have a way awesome example of
missionary work, language proficiency, fatherhood, and worthily
exercising the priesthood in my daddy. It's awesome, and I can't wait
to come back and never speak English to you again.

video, which I assume he will send in his email.. But Sanjo. Is.
INSANE. We literally talked daily about how guilty we felt about
getting boots from home, and never using them. We sang the Yuki song,
and then BOOM. It snowed and didn't stop snowing for DAYS. Last week,
we had no snow at all, but this week, we have more than a meter. I
literally don't think I could do anything without boots. I've never
needed boots more in my life, because I simply have never had to wade
through so much snow before in my life. Could someone look up where
the most snow in Japan is? Cause I can't believe anywhere gets more
than Sanjo!!! It's CRAZY!!

are still young. When I was your age, I was dating and it was my whole
life. Take advice from old 20 year old man. Listen to mom and dad, do
everything they say to do. Work hard in school. Serve a mission
If you do this, you will wake up one day and be completely satisfied 
about where your life is. 

Me and John have read and re-read today's letters and they are the joy
of my life. I love Luke. I LOVE ALL OF YOU TOO.

Spiritual thought of the Leland. OPEN YOUR MOUTH. Especially the youth.
It's not weird, just invite non-member friends to family night, or
church or something. It's just being a friend. You literally just want
to save their soul, that should be your desire. You shouldn't be
ashamed of that, it only means you care. Member missionary work is
infinitely more effective and important than normal missionary work.
When a Ward, Branch, or group stops caring, the Work stops. The
missionaries can work tirelessly, and it will mean 5 baptisms in a
year in an entire prefecture of Japan. I wish I had been more forward
about my love of the Gospel before my mission.. Anyways, my thought is
just that the Lord will fill your mouths with the words of angels if
you open it long enough, and if it has been cleaned with the mouth
wash of worthiness.