Tuesday, July 23, 2013


For historians of the Church, of the web, of familial relations and of communications in general, this was the week that the mom of our family employed a daring but seldom-used gambit: The Anti-Letter.

Borne of weeks of frustration at the lack of real information coming from this site’s namesake, Berta’s letter dared go where few moms’ have. Readers might think it too sparse, lacking in emotion or connection, even skimping on basic affection and love.

All of these assumptions are true.

But it was not with levity that Berta undertook such undertakings—nay, it was only upon sharing the lament with another missionary mom who had passed through a similar circumstance that Berta learned of the possibility—and the power—of The Anti-Letter.

Behold the Mom missive launched this morning:
Your grey suit is too hipster, but I will send your brown shoes. Crazy changes, huh? 
Our discussion with [an investigator] was cool. The Church is true. 
It’s been pretty hot here. 
So you’ve seen some Hutterites? Interesting. 
That’s cool that you did some service. I’m glad you didn’t fall off of that steep roof. 
Glad to hear you are writing in your journal. You won’t regret it. 
President Manion is a good guy? That should be really helpful.  
Well, I’m really busy serving and stuff, so I’ll catch you later.

Keep serving and stay tough,
Oh, the humanity. Sadly, the length, depth and tone very nearly mirror the boy’s own tendencies.

One need be only minimally acquainted with Berta to appreciate the pain she endured to make such a pointed point. “I must cut short my usual 2,500 words,” she may have told herself. “It is for the greater good.” (One imagines a stifled sob.)

Elder Eli’s letter, received only hours after he would have read Berta’s, does seem to reflect a change in messaging:

Hello all!

It’s been a great week. Tons of service. We’ve moved three people in the last week-and-a-half. Earlier today we helped a member start to re-shingle his roof (removing and replacing, a much bigger job than my previous experience). We’re going back tomorrow to help him finish up, then we’re moving someone else in the afternoon.

Between that, we’re still doing missionary work. Finding some solid investigators, making some progress with current ones. Sadly, last week our most promising investigator dropped us flat. We had a wonderful, moving lesson. The Spirit was there, she cried multiple times. The next day, she called us, and right after she asked how I was doing she just told me she wasn’t interested at all anymore. We stopped by and tried talking to her, but she really just didn’t want to learn anymore. So tragic. But, the church is still true and the work will go forth.

Funny story: There are a lot of people here I can’t really relate to. Lots of farmers, rig workers, and manual laborers. I’m not opposed to manual labor, nor do I have anything against those who make their living from it—but at the same time there isn’t much we have in common. I like words and language, and many of the people here don’t interest themselves with things like that. 
We went out to supper with a member, Brother Mackenzie (no relation to Bob and Doug). We were talking about high school, and he was talking about how sometimes he would skip his short day. He basically said this: “Yeah, you know, we had Fridays as short days, so a lot of the time we’d just skip. You know, go shoot gophers.” In Sandy, Utah, if we skip school, we don’t typically shoot gophers. So, naturally, I heard the same thing but thought it was something else. I asked for clarification and said, “Wait, ‘Goshute Gophers’?” 
“Yeah,” said Brother Mackenzie. 
I thought his school name was Goshute, like we were the Alta Hawks. I continued, “That’s weird, because the Goshutes are an Indian tribe. So you had the school name ‘Goshute’ and your mascot was the Gophers?” 
“No. . . We’d go and shoot gophers. You’re too smart, Elder.” 
I can assure you, I did not feel smart. I’m coming to realize that people may not have the same interests as I. We’ll be at a supper and someone will say something like “steal my thunder” or “pull out all the stops,” and I’ll jump in and say, “Fun fact: The phrase ‘steal my thunder’ actually comes from...” and I’ll launch into the origins of the saying. Some appreciate it, but I think some are just polite. Whatevs. Haters gonna hate.

The work is great. I’m tired all of the time. But I’m happy. Thank you for your prayers and support. The Church is true.

Keep the faith,
Elder Webb
Yep, that’s what we’ve been lookin’ for. Way to go, Mom. And thanks, Son.

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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Morsels, Nuggets, and Lots of Imagination

When a boy grows up to serve where there are wolves and harmonicas and Canadian Corn Pops, he may find it hard to share more than the barest minimum of information. He gives it his best, though:

Hello everyone!

I apologize if I have not been providing enough detail in my previous letters. I don’t know what you want to hear so I don’t know what to say. Luckily, I have a mother who is more than willing to give advice (she’s wonderful), and she provided me with some material. 
This last week was good. We did a lot of service, including moving a man out of his house and repairing some shingles on our branch president’s (very steep) roof.
The work is going well. We have a feeling that Peace River is ready to receive the gospel, so long as we’re worthy and obedient. Pray for us! 
Peace River is delightful. For a good look at it, visit this web address: AMCHPR.com/peace_river.htm. Also, that is Ron’s website (the music store twin), so feel free to peruse and get to know him a little better. You will not be disappointed.
It’s surprisingly diverse here. I see natives, Hutterites, Mennonites and smatterings of other cultures daily. Who would’ve thunk? Quickly, I’d like to stress the importance of member missionaries. It is the most effective tool in conversion, so get on it.
Other than that, the Church is true, God loves us unconditionally, and he wants us to be happy. That comes through living the gospel. Nothing else can replace it. 
Thanks for reading!

Keep the faith,
Elder Webb
You should have seen the “material” provided by the aforementioned “mother who is more than willing to give advice.” Prompts, leading questions, picture-perfect scenarios requiring only the most basic of updated information. He’s learning! We love it. And though we may have to stretch our imaginations in trying to picture where he is (thank you, Google maps) and what’s going on, these shortcomings we can overlook, because he is growing as a young man. Somewhere over the course of the next 100-ish letters, we know he’ll send home a letter a mom can be proud of.

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Tuesday, July 9, 2013

IN TUNE WITH THE SPIRIT (and hopefully on the harmonica)

From the continued adventures of Elder Eli in Edmonton:
Hello everyone! The work gets better and better. The highlight of this last little while (besides seeing a bear cub), was a movie night that we put on. A woman we have been working with suggested it, so we asked around and organized it. 

We invited basically everyone we ran into, arranged for refreshments, and held it on Saturday night. We had it at the church, and we watched “Finding Faith in Christ.” Two investigators showed up (which is actually awesome), and the rest were branch members. It was a hit! It went very well for the investigators. We will definitely do more.
By the way, I got a harmonica, and Ron* is teaching me some tricks, so you’ve got that to look forward to.
Canada Day was super low-key. Nowhere near how big the Fourth of July is in the States.  
It’s hard to think of what to say. Everything sort of melts together after a bit.... 
I love my area, I love my companion, and I love the work. The Church is true (and always will be). Read about it. Pray about it. Come unto Christ. You’re all wonderful.
Keep the faith, 
Elder Webb

of Ron & Don’s Custom Computers and Music store fame

Over the past week the mission bade farewell to the previous president and welcomed Pres. & Sis. Manion. (No word yet on whether Elder Eli will be able to ingratiate himself to the new boss....)

Eli says he’s grateful for all the emails! (Berta is less grateful for all Eli’s emails—he had to spend so much time answering everyone that she’s convinced it took away from HER message.)

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