Wednesday, September 29, 2010

And He Is Finally In Bulgaria

Austin safely arrived in Bulgaria this morning. We were able to talk with him on the phone from the mission home this morning. He had wanted to call from NY and had a two and a half hour window to do so, but because of the high winds and tornado warnings in NY, his flight arrived two hours late and they had to sprint to Austrian Airlines to catch their connection. He sounds awesome! He is true to character because he said that he had a fifteen minute interview with his mission president and the mission president said that he learned more about him in the fifteen minutes than he knows about his missionaries that are heading home. When we talked with him, he was still awake after over 24 hours. They were going to have dinner and then go to bed. He will meet his trainer and go to his area tomorrow. He said the country was beautiful but that the drivers were crazy! He said thank you, thank you, thank you for all the packages, letters and support in the MTC. He said he had so many goodies, he had to have a goodie give-away party Monday night. His P-day is on Mondays, so we look forward to an email on Monday. I will post his email on the blog.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Last Letter From The MTC

Dear Family,

Thank you so much for the packages and mails. First, to answer the big question. I did get my travel plans and sent a handmade copy to my family. If you want to know more than I am leaving on the 28th, and that I can call and talk to my mom and dad. Everything is going well here. The language is getting a ton easier and I am no longer uneasy about learning how to speak. I am so ready to get out of here and get to Bulgaria. Not that the MTC isn't wonderful. It's just that I have heard so much from my teachers about the beauty and wonderment of Bulgaria. Especially about how wonderful the people are and how much they need the gospel. I don't know how to describe it but I feel that. I can do very little good here anymore and I will only be able to progress as a missionary more fully and a person while in the field. That said though, I am not going to waste my last week here. As in racing terms, I am going to sprint to the finish. Though I must say if I don't get my visa (which I don't find out until one-two days before I leave) I will be devastated. I am kind of jealous of Max because he will already be in Brazil during his training. Max, you are incredibly lucky to be going to Brazil first, and don't worry the language will come despite what you might think. Anyways you get a couple of months before then so have fun in the meanwhile. It only seems like yesterday since I got here, time has flown by. I have been told by my teachers though that the MTC is going to be the shortest part of my mission if I continue to work hard. They told us that we will wake up at home and wonder what just happened. I kind of hope it goes that fast, but at the same time, I don't want it to because I want to get as much as I can done and if it goes by that fast, I am afraid I won't be able to do my best.

Now to answer some of mom's questions. My favorite moment in the MTC would probably be hosting and showing brand new missionaries around. That felt really cool. My biggest lesson learned was probably learning how to work through my fatigue and bordom, and times when I didn't want to work and just doing it. Especially how bless I am when I do. I already answered what I look forward to the most and my biggest fear is that I won't be able to do my best for the full two years. Finally, all of my district should be leaving with me, it really just depends on who gets their visa. Sorry just read some more questions. Yes I did get Kristie's cookies and they were delicious. It's cool and a neat idea to make Bubbles a class pet. He will probably be better taken care of. Sorry about Robbie not making student council but he does have three more chances and an amazing essay. Just keep working hard, Robbie and don't give up and pray for more help and you will be blessed. I also got my shirts, three short sleeve though. My email address is

I still can't approve of your relationship with Destry, McKenzie without a picture. It is great you are out of your cast, Grandma Harmer. I love you all and pray for you every night.

Please give me news and send me pictures over the computer. Dad, you asked me about any good books and I have found one that is my new favorite. It is called "Answers to Gospel Questions, The Classic Collection, Volume One" by Joseph Fielding Smith. It cost about fifty bucks and even though I haven't read all of it, I already know it is so worth it. Buy two and send me one.

Love, Austin

P.S. Just found out that everyone's visas came in! Yeah!!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Almost to Bulgaria

Today we received Austin's flight plans. He leaves on September 28th. He will call in the afternoon sometime from NY. He is excited to leave but he will miss all the attention he is getting at the MTC!

Here is his letter-

Dear Family,

Where do I begin. First, thank you so much for the pickels. I haven't tried them yet but I can't wait to break into them. Okay I have tried them now. Not the crunchiest, but still great. First, thanks for the letters and packages. Second great news about Maggie. That is amazing how we get to bless nine people with a service dog and a good one too if they have Maggie's temperment. I am glad McKenzie had a good time on her date and had fun. Also I am happy she listened to me and was nice to him though it sounds like you flirted a bit much! Oh well! I also want to get a picture of McKenzie and her date before I can give her permission to pursue him (also I want to see how McKenzie looked for Homecoming) On to Robbie; It's very cool that you are trying for student council. I read your essay and I think it sounded great and I am sure you will get in and be a great student council member. Robbie don't worry about Sabrine. Girls will never make sense so all us guys can do is be nice to them and respect them. Hang in there! I am happy that everyone is doing okay as well and thank you for the letters.

Okay some cool things that happened this week. One we had to do a talk on temples and family history, so we basically got permission to use for their new site. The cool part was that I was able to find a link to Ephiram and another to Adam and Eve. To be able to go that far back was really cool. I even got a link to Abraham and that was really cool as well. I only had to make one generation jump off the Ewell line because it ends in 1492 with Jonathan Ule. I also managed to bond better with my companion. Also it was an okay week. One bad thing though. I have a little cold, but I am drinking tons and have super strong cough drops. I am getting better though. I can't think of anything else to say other than some advice to Max. Once you get to Brazil MTC memorize your vocab English to Porteguese and keep on top of it. Second, get your grammar down and use what you know as much as you can. Third, I talked to one of the Brazilian teachers and he said you would get a teacher that speaks English and that it would be a great opportunity to learn the language. Some more things I remember is that tomorrow I get to host and I might get my travel plans which means I might be flying out next Saturday since the travel plans come 10 days before you leave. Other than that I can't think of anything else to talk about. You are all in my prayers.

Love, Elder Ewell

P.S. Elder Hubert says hi and his family lives in Alpine

Some Pictures

Austin sent these pictures this week. It looks like they are having some fun. The bottles and signitures are in the ceiling above their classroom. He looks good!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

September 11

Dear Family,
First I would like to thank everyone for the plethora of packages that I received this week. So thank you Aunt Gina, Aunt Merr, Grandma Harmer. I loved every one of your packages and Aunt Gina jumped to the top of the lead of Aunts. The two reasons are 1- she sent me a package not just a letter, and 2-It was filled with goodies from Trader Joe's! The number two is the real reason, but thank you so much, thank you everyone so much. Grandma Harmer, I hope you had fun with Max since you were both stuck at home for the Bear Lake campout. I don't really know what to write about. This week was a pretty bland week. Fast Sunday was great like always. There were a lot of good talks as well. The sad thing is everyday is great and there are always good talks, so even though I write them all down and record everything in my journal, the week just seems average especially since I can't tell one day from the next. Whenever I open my journal I am amazed by all the entries and can't believe it has been that long. Finally got your package mom and letter. Thank you to infinity for the Apple Beer and pictures. First don't worry about my question, I came to the same conclusion. Second I love how McKenzie answered her date. I wish I could have been there or that there is a video somewhere. Third, McKenzie can't go because she it too cute to be in public now. Fourth, since she will disregard me and go anyways, please remind her (I am speaking to you McKenzie) that she needs to wait til the third date at least before she kisses him. Make him work for it! Fifth I switched pens cause my black one is running out of ink. Sixth if Katy doesn't get asked organize a movie party with some other girls ( a anit-homecoming party) Seventh I am getting a craving for dried mangoes. (hint, hint) Eighth, NO ROBBIE I WILL WIN OUR GAME!! Sorry this letter isn't as long as normal, guess it was just a short letter week. Thank you for everything, everybody keep it coming.

Love, Austin James Ewell

P.S. Sorry this is so late.
P.S.S. Where did Grandma get those peppered pistacios, they were amazing!
P.S.S.S. Elder Hubert says Hi!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

September 1-four weeks to Bulgaria

Dear Family,
I have a question! I know it is important to follow my own promptings and my own spiritual needs, I also know it is important to support my district and be a part of the group. Now here is the question. Whenever I follow my district and do what they want, I am ignoring my own impressions and can't feel the spirit, but whenever I try to get them to follow my advice or even go off on my own( with my companion) they all say I shouldn't(even my companion) and I just cause contention. For example, let's say today is the day we go to the temple. Now we are suppose to be at the temple at a certain time. I feel and believe that time represents the time we are suppose to be in the chapel so we can start to feel the spirit and be more prepared for the incredibly important work we do. Now my district believes that that time is the time we should be at the doors of the temple and getting our recommends checked. If I follow that way, I only get five minutes in the chapel before the session starts and I am not as prepared as I would like and when I come out of the session I don't feel like I just accomplished an important work. I more feel ashamed that I didn't try my hardest. So I guess my question is, should I follow my own spiritual inspiration and by my own fault in not being able to convey my feelings, cause contention for my district, or should I ignore my own spiritual promptings and do what my district says and only do the bare minimum that can be done and still get it done, yet by doing this they are happy and able to feel the spirit? I have been half-tempted to show them the good, better, best talk that was given in Priesthood but I am not sure if that is me trying to chastise them or trying to convey my feelings. I don't know what to do.

Now let's answer some questions. My predictions for Max are stateside-Nashville English speaking and Warsaw Poland, Polish speaking. Kenzie, I loved your cheese cake! Mom, I am doing fine this week and I won't tell you when my P-day is here, so keep guessing. The most unexpected thing that happened this week I already told you about. Jeffery R. Holland came and spoke. I really wish you could all get a copy of it but the MTC is very tight lipped about the talks given here. Even we as missionaries can only access three talks that were given in the past. The next unexpected thing was I am a zone leader and have been for a week ( has it really been a week) and our new districts came in. With them came two elders from Germany. They are going to Poland and two elders from England ( no they aren't from London, dad) and they are going to Toronto-West, Canada Mission. They all four speak really good English and yes I meant to include the England Elders in that, cause dad can attest that somethings you can't understand the English even when they are speaking English. Tell Anna I will hold her to the package thing. I love being the food guy (whenever someone wants some food on my floor they all come to me because I have so much of it, but don't stop sending it cause I love these packages) Oh forgot something, Aunt Joni sent me a ball in the mail. That is going to entertain me for days. As I keep telling everyone (because they were wondering why I was so happy) My happiness is easily bought, it just needs to be bought often. Thank you Aunt Merr for the letter and guess what my companion used to live in Reno, but he says that he didn't like wooster anyway. Thank you, thank you, thank you Grandma Harmer for the package. I loved the dried fruit and all the scriptures that described them but my favorite treat was the dried fruit. The taste was heaven to my taste buds. After all the non fruity stuff here it feels amazing to actually have fruit. Oh tell Morgan thanks for the picture, it made my day. I think that answers all the questions.

Now time for my own. First, did you find out who the mysterious letter was from? Second, why am I only getting letters from my mom, McKenzie, Merr, Grandma Harmer, Robbie, and my dad on a regular basis? I want to hear from all of you so please write! I am trying to not be selfish for I love the letters that I do get but please give me more. Third, not a question but I told my district about Robbie's break-up rebound and they cheered and called him a player. ( my district loves the packages I get by the way and wonder if they can be adopted for the remainder of our stay here) Don't take this as an insult Robbie, they just like to tease a lot. Fourth, do you know how long your game of dots will take, Robbie? There is 72 possible moves (now 70) If we make a move each , every week the game will take us 36 weeks to finish if we can get it going back and forth for the entire time while I am in Bulgaria. This doesn't mean I don't want to do it. In fact I love it and I assure you, I will win. I am just telling you that the game might not get done before I get back. I am going to make a copy and update it in case this one gets lost in the mail. I will only use purple to make my move so you can always tell and be prepared to lose. Fifth did you get the pictures off that card? I don't think I have anymore questions. Wait what is the current news on the temple in Payson? I want to know. Also please keep me updated on that and what else is going on. The MCT is the nicest (prison) "cough" paradise. We keep learning a ton but we are getting used to it so it seems like we aren't learning anything. Ahh that is frustrating. The language is coming, the days are blending, and the stories of Bulgaria keep on coming. This week though we have our first lesson being taught in all Bulgarian, that is going to be fun. This week is my 6th Wednesday. I can't believe it has been this fast. I am getting a haircut today and that is going to be fun as well. I can't think of anything else to write so good bye.

Love, Austin

P.S. My companion wants the recipe for the peanut butter clusters that Aunt Merr sent me. He says his family likes stuff like that so please send a copy.