30 Jan 2011: Elder "Crazy Eyes" Carter on his last day in Willits, California.
Back when my brother Jeff served his mission in Canada (1981-82), the only communication missionaries had with their families were twice-a-year phone calls and the "snail mail" postal system, which could be even slower for those serving in foreign countries.
Today, along with their Christmas and Mother's Day phone calls, most young Elders have access to computers and are allowed to email their family on P-day, once a week. My son Jacob's P-day (a prep-day is kinda sorta their day off) is on Mondays, and he has about 30 minutes to read the emails we send from home and then send us his responses. Needless to say, his emails to us are short and sweet!
30 Jan 2011: Elder Carter with the Potters, a couple from church
who kept a close eye on the missionaries in their ward.
For the past two Mondays, along with his emails, Jacob has sent several photos he's taken with the camera we gave him the day he entered the Mission Training Center, our early Christmas present to him. It's been fun to see scenes from his daily missionary life.
How else would we have "met" the many families he befriended in his first area, the town of Willits, along with Brother and Sister Potter, who took such good care of our son while he served in their ward? In fact, it was from the Potters' computer that we received our first several weeks of emails from Jacob. And it was Sister Potter who quickly contacted me when she realized Jacob had sent us an incomplete address!
10 Feb 2011: Elder Carter (2nd from right) in front of the Oakland Temple.
While serving in Sonoma, his second area, Jacob had the opportunity to attend sessions at the Oakland Temple. What a thrill it was for me to see my son standing before the temple where my siblings and I were sealed to our parents way back on June 1, 1968. I was only 13 at the time, but my memories of that day are still vivid.
Elder Carter and his companion, Elder Gregory, on the temple grounds overlooking the Bay.
I would have been proud for Jacob to serve the Lord anywhere in the world, but I admit it's a special blessing to me that he is serving in California, my home state, where I was born and raised and lived for the first 25 years of my life. I love my mountain home here in Arizona, but California will always be first in my heart. I miss it sometimes.
13 Mar 2011: Elder Carter (center, big blue jacket) on his last day in Sonoma, California.
On March 14, Jacob was transferred to Fairfield. I can't wait to see the next set of pictures he sends! My son has always been a cockeyed optimist, and he has loved all three areas to which he's been assigned. Each time he is transferred, he insists he loves the new area even more than the last!
Here's what he had to say about Fairfield in his last email:
"Fairfield is going great. When I got here we would only get like 8 to 9 lessons a week and now that I have been here we got twelve this week! I wish I was toned and muscular, haha! Just this week we biked over 60 miles, that's pretty good... Last week we had a lesson with this one girl that we met on the street and she was very excited. Then a few minutes later we heard a knock at the door, so she answered it and this other lady walked in and was very interested in hearing a message about Jesus Christ. Ten minutes later another guy knocked on the door and he was interested too, so we have 3 new investigators! It's awesome..."
Several weeks ago, Jacob emailed me the following request:
"Is there any way you can send a family picture in a frame? My companions always ask me why I dont have one..."
I was shocked and embarrassed to realize I'd sent my son away for two years without even thinking about sending a family photo with him! So I searched high and low for the perfect frame, and I found it. I think I found the perfect set of pictures to go with it, too. Jacob received the frame last weekend and proclaimed it "amazing," so I guess I did good!
He is still looking for letters from family and friends. Here's his new address:
Elder Jacob Carter
1406 Woolner Ave. Apt #8
Fairfield, CA 94533
Go ahead, make his day!