Monday, July 19, 2010

Island Conference

I don't know why but it seems like this week has been extremely long. Long, but fun,
and quite rewarding.

Things I need: more Tony Chachere's. I love that stuff and put possibly unhealthy amounts of it on everything I eat. Maybe a couple of cans of the stuff would be prudent. My suit is too small. I've been lifting and then me and Touli got lazy. Because of that, both of us buffed up pretty good because of the rest and food. Consequently, my suit looks a tad bit silly. It is just too small for me now. I'm thinking about having a new cheap one made, but I have to wait until after transfers to be sure.

I got the ear plugs package and I am very happy! Thank you! I also got a poster from some people back home. It is covered in signatures and nice words from people that I know but I'm not really sure of its origins. Seminary? Youth Conference? If someone could send me an email about its whereabouts, that would be nice.

The big news this week was Island Conference. I already tried writing the whole thing out in my journal and it proved too big of a task. So, I'll just give a summary with the highlights. On Thursday night we packed our bags and went to the Ivandry house, which is significantly closer to the Office. We got together with the guys from that house and then went out to the Office. For the first night of Island Conference we were having a Preach My Gospel Tournament and testimony meeting. The PMG tourney was in a loose Jeopardy format. We all split into teams and went at it. A lot of the questions were difficult because they were so specific. Luckily, Prez is always one for fun and he was the 'judge'.

We were all working our answers, adding stuff for extra points. At one point in the night I was singing 'Twinkle Twinkle Little Star' in an opera voice for bonus points and Elder Wall (one of my housemates) was doing a jig on stage. It was a good time.

The testimony meeting was great and very spiritual. Afterwards we broke our fast with a delicious sandwich dinner provided for us by Sister Donnelly. The next day we got up and went back to the Office. We first took the mission picture and then had the meeting and talks portion of the conference. We heard some great talks from some
of the regular, non-leader elders, and had a big talk about an evacuation plan. That's all I'll say about that... All in all we had a great morning and definently learned a lot.

After lunch we had a massive tie exchange and I skillfully walked away with four new - for me - ties. Then we all changed into P-Day clothes and began the much awaited-for activities portion of the conference. The first activity that we would do was called a Helter-Skelter, or a Perpetual Motion Machine, or a Roller Coaster. The purpose of this activity was to build a massive ball rolling machine thing across the parking lot of the Office. Our goal was to send a golf ball through the whole thing, taking at least four minutes to do so. We only had forty-five minutes to build the whole contraption. Long story short, while it looked really cool and worked to a certain degree....the whole thing was a failure. The main causes of that result can probably be attributed to not having any engineering majors in the near-vicinity, being disorganized, and being a bunch of 19 to 20 year old kids.

The next activity was called The Balloon Launch. The goal of this activity was to build a hot air balloon 2 meters in diameter, and have a launch ceremony with posters, speeches, songs, a punchy theme, and t-shirts with logos for everyone. Also, all of the materials had to be bought from a 'store' with fake money that was earned through a variety of different means. When we all heard the next activity, we
were excited and quite scared. If we couldn't even do a simple Helter-Skelter, how in the world were we going to pull this off? Regardless, we elected our leaders, made up our departments, and set to work.

I immediately joined the Fund-Raiser Department. Prez Donnelly looked at me specifically when he said that the activities would be things like singing and hard physical tasks. For each task we did, the AP's would check it off and give us the money that we earned from it. Some of the things that I took part in were: doing 50 pushups nonstop, reciting the missionary purpose, walking ten meters on my hands, pushing a giant truck around the parking lot four times and being silent for one minute - someone farted 2 seconds in and it was nearly impossible to be quiet. It was fun, it was hard, it was amazing to see everyone giving their all to a common cause. Elder Goff actually bought a pizza with his own money for one of the tasks. Elder Hiate got a horrible haircut with dull scissors for another. We did a recreation of the Reorganization of the Church. I was Joseph Smith (lol!) and we had an opening song, prayer, events and announcements, and an improvised speech from me.

Once we had knocked out all sixty of the tasks, my whole department switched to other groups to help get ready for the launch. Everyone was slightly behind schedule so we worked as hard as we could to get ready. Finally, everything came together and the event began. A quartet sang "I'm Sailing Away" and we had some hilarious speeches
from Elder Tagert and Riding. It was surreal to see the whole mission decked out in t-shirts that said "AFAKA" (can, or free) and to see what we had accomplished in only 2 hours.

The time came and we inflated the balloon to see it sail away. What an experience. I've never really felt before what I did during that activity. To see us all go in together and give everything we had for a common cause was inspiring. I wish I could tell you more about the other departments, but I and my group were working so hard on our tasks that I really have no idea what they did. We had to trust that the other groups were keeping up their side of the project. I absolutely loved it!

Really, that is pretty much the same as missionary work. We all give up our lives back home for two years to give ourselves instead to this great work. I am so proud to be a missionary and so grateful to be serving the Lord in such a capacity. Whenever we think we can't go anymore, we can just think of the other missionaries, doing their part, keeping up their side of this most magnificent purpose.

Well I miss you guys and love you all so much. Dad and Brady - have fun at Comic-Con! I'm jealous!

Elder Cryer

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