Monday, September 28, 2015

Is This A Dream?

Dear Family and Friends,

This week began with my first experience with inception. it was so weird. The dream felt like it went on for hours. I would go into more detail about my dream, but I don't think it is all that important.

The subject of this email is due to a few things: my dream, I'm in a companionship now, and I'm on a mission. Like wow!

So, this Wednesday at lunch, we got a call from the assistants to the president and they asked to speak with Elder Westmann. They asked him if he played sports (he did karate or something) and then asked if he was flexible. He said yes, and then they told him that he was needed in Maryland (which is in this mission). So, both Wednesday and Thursday were basically shot because we had to get him all packed because he left Thursday at 3:30. He is gone now. Down to one trainer.

District Meeting in Stroudsburg
Elder Smith, Elder Martinez, Elder Westmann, Elder Underwood, Elder Stimpson
Sister Cost, Sister Palacious

Every day here, still, amazes me that I am on a mission. I literally have nothing else to do other than preach the good word of God and that amazes me. I know that I am all the way across the country, but it doesn't fell like it.

Friday morning, I was awakened by a beeping from outside our room. I was too lazy to see what it was, so I just pulled the covers over my head and tried to fall asleep before it beeped again. When we woke up, we found that it was the carbon monoxide detector. So we got outside and called the zone leaders. Then we went back inside and read the back and the chirping was just indicating that we needed to chnge the system. So luckily, I am not dead. Our motivation was pretty low this day because we lost an elder, and basically 2 days of work because of the emergency transfer.

HOWEVER, Friday turned into a much better day because I had my first door slam! The guy opened the door and said "Can I help you?" We said, "Hi, how are you?" and he just slammed it right there. It was sweet. I yelled "God bless," saluted, and walked away saying "the field is white...elsewhere." I'm getting pretty good at talking to people. It was hard a tfirst because I feel like I am saying, "Hi, how are you? Would you like to talk about Jesus?" But, it gets less awkward over time. I also saw a possum and a jack rabbit.

Cooking here is different. Sometimes we eat at a members house. The Lucas family made baked mac and cheese yesterday and it was amazing! However, we cook our own breakfasts. Sometimes I eat a protein bar.

But, Elder Martinez taught me how to make an over easy egg and I made the best one I have ever had. I gave my mom a run for her money.

I beat my Rubik's cube record. The people in my district are getting into cubing.

We taught a guy earlier in the week that really wanted to talk about the universe. I thought "Cool, I know a lot about that." So I told him things and he would tell me that I was wrong. It was so hard because I knew that I was right, but he didn't want to hear it. Haha.

I have learned a lot this week about obedience and focus. I have changed some things that I ahve been doing so that I can be more obedient. I should let you know that I am not reading the emails every day. I decided to only leave it to Pday because I would get so distracted when I was reading them every day. I need to keep two feet in the mission and not one foot at home. I think that not reading my emails every day will do that for me but things may change a little bit.

One day this week during lunch, my companion and I watched the Mormon message "Mountains to Climb." IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THAT - GO WATCH IT NOWWWWW!! It is great and I cried some. Seriously. Go watch it.

These next pictures are called lineage pictures. In the mission, your trainer is called your dad. So here is a picture of me and my parents. We often played with our lacrosse sticks to unwind and stuff. We just bought them at a dollar store.

I love you all. I hope life is going well. But trusting in the Lord always guarantees that everything will be okay. Faith makes things possible, not easy. Jesus Christ is our Savior and it kills me to know that a lot of people do not have that knowledge. If you don't have that knowledge or testimony, find it. There is nothing more important.

Man, I am so happy 😀👍🏻❤️

Elder Marshall Underwood

Monday, September 21, 2015

Golden Fire

This week starting with the Golden Retraining, which is basically for all the new guys to go and get more training with their trainers. There were some great things shared, but President Anderson said to us that "this is the chance of a lifetime for you to change your souls." I thought that that was beautiful and so true. My heart and soul will be changed absolutely. Also, the trainers all met together and my trainers told me that the other goldens were giving their companions troubles but not me! That made me feel good.

My friend Elder Moench. He went to Cottonwood HS. He's really funny and we get along great.
I don't know if I will see him again until after my mission. 

 We are wearing some neckties that my mom sent us from DI. We love ties

Wednesday was a great day. Natalie Van Geisen is the bishop's daughter and she came to talk to me with her mom after I played the piano in sacrament. Her mom asked me to tell her about my experience. She is 5, so I said "Natalie, I used to hate playing the piano, but if you work hard, it gets more fun." I didn't think much of it, but on this day, the bishop's wife called and said that Natalie was quiet and cooperative during her lesson and then she asked her mom to help her learn the hymns. She attributed this change in her daughter to my comment and said "maybe that's one reason why you were sent here first."

We taught a Catholic family that preached to us out of an anti-Mormon book. They were really trying to tear us down so we are going back just to talk about the Godhead. "We declare it is self-evident from the scriptures that the father, the Son and the Holy Ghost are separate persons, three divine beings." - Elder Holland John 17:3

For lunch, I ate a little expired Mac&Cheese and then I felt really sick.

Anyway, Wednesdays are maybe my favorite because on Wednesdays, we wear pink. There are a lot of Mean Girls references thrown around. Occasionally, one of my comps will say "she doesn't even go here" or "you can't sit with us." It is so funny and I enjoy those days.

On Thursday, I asked a Roman Catholic about the trinity and I don't understand still because she was so confusing. She didn't want to listen to what I had to say. She didn't believe about the premortal life. Anyway, we did some tracting and in the end, we taught 6 lessons and found one new investigator (or gator). It was a super successful day. One lady didn't want to listen to us, but she told us to hold on. She struggled to get out of her chair and came back about 3 minutes later with $50 saying she wanted to help us out. Obviously we didn't take it, but we talked to her and found out that her husband was a captain of a ship that took soldiers in on D day. That's amazing. History.

Me walking with a member, Brother Wallace, after tracting.

One thing hits me every day: I'm on a mission. That is so weird. Like what. It's so great, but it is really still surreal to me.

On Saturday, we watched the priesthood restoration site dedication and that was great. Then we ate Arby's and it made my stomach sad. Then we spent about 2 hours trying to find this family a ride to stake conference. Finally we did, and then the family told us they couldn't go. Wow. That made us really downtrodden, BUT then we went to the Hays. The Hays have 11 children and they were all angels. The oldest daughter made dinner for everyone. Gluten free, diary free pizza from scratch. I was scared, but it was delicious. I asked for seconds.

Sunday was stake conference. There were 6 general authorities and 2 area seventies there. But the most important was President Nelson. That man is amazing. There were many things siad, but the legendary thing that he said when referring to the story of Sarah and Isaac was this: "How old was Sarah? She was past the menopause, I will tell you that." Oh man it was so funny to see that. My favorite thing said was by Sister Phillis Snow who posed the question, "Why would I want to live any other way?" With reference to the gospel. There is no greater happiness than this. And I'm in the heart of it right now.

There have been a couple fights between my trainers this past week because they are basically opposite people, but they are both really great. I have learned this because of it:
Charles W. Penrose wrote:
"School they feelings,
Oh my brother
train thy warm impulsive soul.
Do not its emotions smother
but let wisdom's voice control."

Be not hasty to anger. Proverbs 16:32 says, "He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city." Anger only hurts a relationship. There is always a way to handle a problem with love and understanding other than anger and harsh words. A great talk that illustrates this is "Slow to Anger" by President Hinckley in October of 2007.

Well my people, I love you.

Don't forget to love each other. Just as Jesus did. He is our greates example, our Savior, and our brother. That is some beautiful knowledge.

Love, sincerely,

Elder Marshall Cluff Underwood

More stuff:

The fog is really intense here - I love it!

This sign was in the home of the Wadleys. They lived in Midvale and their son was great friends with Pete Heslop. The family was great friends with the Heslops. We talked about HHS and I knew that we had this same sign at my house.

This is me singing. I sing all the time. Probably drives my companions crazy.

Elder Underwood showing off his talent of swallowing his tongue.

This video shows his companions teaching Elder Underwood how to use their washer. He was getting shoe polish out of his white shirt - as he had mentioned a couple weeks ago.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Last Minute Pics

Elder Underwood had his first haircut NOT by Cary Charron - not too bad ;)

Also got these pics from the mom (Kerri Smilanich) of Marshall's friend (Katie Smilanich). Katie's cousin is in the Philadelphia Pennsylvania mission. He is on the back row - second from the left - Elder Undeewood said he did see Elder Smilanich when he got there but there was a conference of some kind so I am sure they got to make that connection. 

Monday, September 14, 2015

The Song of the Heart

My friends and family,

It has been a week. Ah quite a week. Every day out here is a new experience and I love it.

First, let me tell you about last Monday. We always wake up every morning and work out. I am staying pretty fit and I have not gained any weight. I am so glad that I was only in the MTC for 2 weeks because everyone gets fat there. We went to this picnic on Monday and at the end, they gave us all of the extra food. So about 40 hamburgers, 40 hot dogs, and buns for all of it. We were reluctant to take it because we had just gone shopping for the week, but we took it anyway. Everyone. Listen. The missionaries do not starve (at least in the USA). All they want from you is to find them someone to teach. I would personally rather go talk to someone than eat lunch.

This week was a week of a lot of tracting. That's the stereotypical thing for you to see missionaries doing but it's not every day. Anyway, on Tuesday, we tracted and we found a very nice man that told us all about his father passing away. It was kind of inspirational and we set up a return visit with him. Then, we met this Catholic family that really wants to convert us. So we are going back to see what they have to say! Elder Martinez told me that a true seeker always has an open mind. I'm sure I will listen to them truthfully because I hope they would do the same for our message. Thursday, tracting was for about 3 hours in the rain. Crazy. But also super fun because it has been so hot here. Anyway, out of that day, we got 3 return appointments and 2 new investigators. It was really great and a lot of people on that street wanted to talk to us.

- side note - I whistle Lord of the Rings every day without fail.

Now skip to Sunday. All 3 of us spoke in sacrament. My talk was on hymns. Perfect. I blew that talk out of the water. I had about a page of notes. IB taught me how to talk without having to write down everything that you have to say. After my talk, I played "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing". That, my friends, is a beautiful song. There are a few songs that have been on my mind lately.

Come Thou Found - Vocal Point
Danny Boy - Vocal Point
You're Not Alone - Owl City
Ungrateful Eyes - Jon Bellion

Man I love those songs. We had a baptism planned for Sunday but they just didn't show. I was absolutely devastated. But they decided that they weren't ready so we will keep helping them because they really want to be baptized. I have really seen that Satan tries to sneak into your life when you are trying to improve it and follow God.

I have one large regret. And I speak specifically to my friends right now. I regret, more than anything, that I did not share my testimony with you individually. I wish that I could go back and change that. Because I know Jesus Christ is our Savior and it is only through him that we can find true happiness in this life. His spirit is the most beautiful feeling in the world and I know that we can feel his presence when we pray and read the scriptures. If any of you ever feel lost in this world, call the missionaries. Our goal is to invite others to come unto Christ and help them to be happy. I know this gospel is true because I feel it every day.

"I'll never wander on my own. For I am yours until you call me home. I close my eyes and I can hear you say 'you're not alone.' " Owl City

"For my soul delighteth in the song of the heart; yea the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads." D&C 25:12

Under Elderwood

Monday, September 7, 2015

Bears, Beets, Book of Mormon

Hey Yous Guys,

Last Sunday, I took my companion to the travel office so that he could go to Mozambique. He was a really good guy and he is going to have a great time. There was this great guy in the MTC named Elder Tanginoa and he drew a picture in the front of my journal. He taught me some Tongan so, to all of you back home, I would like to say "ofa atu and oku ou tui kia kalaisi."

One of my favorite companions in the MTC was named Elder Huang. He is the funniest/cutest guy I know. He is from Taiwan and his English wasn't the best so he can be blamed for quotes such as: latter day satans, doctrine and condiments, and  chie che for that.

On Tuesday morning, I took a trip to the airport and it was awful. P.S. to my friends at the U, I was at a trax station really nearby. Anyway, long flight and I sat next to these awesome girls. A hairdresser and an artist/writer. We landed (p.s. The group going to Philadelphia was a bunch of pretty boys, including Elder Tuttle AKA pristine Alta boy) and the Mission President and his wife had made some bomb lasagna and water ice.

The transfer meeting was on Wednesday and my companions are Elders Martinez and Westmann. Both hail from CA. Martinez likes soccer, he's happy and a great talker. Westmann likes Rubiks, physics, and anime. We get along swimmingly. They call me the Visa Blessing. They say it is because they are blessed to have me here but really I am just happy to be here. I don't mention to anyone that I am waiting on a visa but everyone else brings it up. Also, instead of calling the new guys greenies, they call us Goldens. They threw me a party with balloons and things back at the apartment!!!

My Address:
51 N 2nd Street Apt 310
Stroudsburg, PA 18360
(Pretty close to Scranton, thus the subject line)

Key events:
Spilled shoe polish on my shirt (it came out mom)
I have invited 2 people to be baptized
I started the Book of Mormon in French (@peteyJ it's so hard)

The area:
It is really beautiful. I miss the mountains but it is basically a forest here. I haven't taken any pictures of the trees yet but I'm sure that I will.

The most meaningful thing I did this week was ponder the Character of Christ by Elder Bednar. Click on the talk title for the link. It is absolutely amazing! Seriously.. Live changing. I encourage everyone to watch it because I know that Christ is our best and perfect example. Character of Christ Video

Love Elder Underwood

P.S. I would love for you peeps to send me mroe pictures of you. I like to look at them a lot.
P.P.S. Write me if you please
P.P.P.S. I played the piano in sacrament meeting for everyone to sing.
P.P.P.P.S. I should only be here for one transfer - which is 6 weeks.

Friday, September 4, 2015

He has arrived in Philadelphia Pennsylvania

Elder Marshall Underwood departed Salt Lake City on Tuesday September 1 at 9:40 am. He will be serving in Pennsylvania while he awaits his Visa for France. We have been anxiously awaiting this email we got today. Any letters are to be sent to his address - which we are awaiting to get. Any packages can be mailed to the mission office.

Elder Marshall Underwood
721 Paxon Hollow Road Ste B
Broomall, PA 19008

Dear Brother & Sister Underwood -

Elder Underwood has arrived in the Pennsylvania Philadelphia Mission. I have attached a picture of him with President and Sister Anderson. He will be serving in the Stroudburg !st Area of the Lehigh Valley Zone and his companions are Elders Westmann and Martinez. We look forward to serving with Elder Underwood in the PPM.