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October 19, 2015
Dear Mom, Dad, Aubrey and all my peeps ;),
Man, oh man. In all honesty, this transfer just seems to be flying by so fast ever since I celebrated my Hump Day. Now I know what Dad meant when he told me Grandpa's advice, "Each day just goes a little bit faster than the previous one." I promise to do my best to keep you all updated on my adventures here in the WVCM (West Virginia Charleston Mission) but some of my stories will have to wait until I get back home. By that time, I'll have two journals full of stories to tell. So don't worry, the best is yet to come ;)
Before I tell you all about my highlight for the week, let me start off by answering Mom's questions:
*1 & 2) I have talked to Allison T about the Listening Program. We will start the program tonight, where we will talk about which Listening Schedule will be best for me. However, I did listen to "Achieve Preparation" songs from the Listening Program. Basically, it's a song file that's made to give participants a sample of what the songs are like. I listened to them already and they are awesome! Not only do I have liking for classical music now, but I also have this strange desire to learn how to play the violin. I may not be the next Lindsey Stirling but I can still dream can't I ;) Lol! Anyway, we'll get the ball officially rolling tonight and I'll tell you more about it in my next e-mail. So stay tuned.
**3) Yes, I did burn a shirt for my halfway mark. I also burned a tie for that occasion because I didn't get to do it for my quarter mark. I'm sorry if I made everyone worried about this action of mine. I know that this was not my usual style but it was something that I've been thinking about doing. It was one of those rare moments of mine when I decided to do something out of character, just so that I can prove to myself that I can be fun guy. I just wanted to prove that I'm not "All Work & No Play". I'm sorry if I made everyone concerned. I promise that I won't get reckless next time.
Now for my report for the week. This was actually a good week for me. So good that I reported to my Mission President. Here's what I wrote:
"...my personal highlight was seeing my improvement as a missionary. For a while, I've been struggling to talk to people about the gospel because I'm just not a good conversationalist. So, later in the week, I decided to ask Elder Jarman to help me with door approaches by role-playing during our companionship study. I'm really glad we did because we realized that we need to ask effective questions as we talk with people at their doorsteps. So, we spent most of our evenings tracting some streets that neither of us had been on and put what we learn to the test. While we may have only a handful of potential investigators, it was still cool to see how my ability to talk and ask questions has improved. I'm really grateful for Elder Jarman's help. His Start, Stop, & Continue evaluation has been very instrumental in my progress."
This is just my personal highlight for the week. There were other good things that happened but this was my personal favorite.
Well, I think that's everything. I hope things are going well in good ole Spokane, Washington. I love you all and miss you all. Hurrah for Israel!
Elder Michael Alley
*Explanation from Elder Alley's mom: Michael has been in the same area with the same companion for three transfers now. He finally confided to his companion about his frustrations with his cognitive disorder during discussions. An investigator would ask a question, but since it takes Michael so long to process things by the time he had formulated an answer the discussion had already moved on. This was so frustrating for Michael. His companion's mom is a social worker who also specializes in communication disorders and, with Michael's permission, his companion passed my contact info on to her. We talked on the phone and she told me she several years ago she found this Listening Program which involves listening to this specially engineered classical music twice a day that is supposed to help train the brain and facilitate the communication process. She has recommended it to many of her clients and seen great progress. It's facilitated by a speech therapist and Michael got permission from his mission president to do the program and arrange for a long distance phone consult with a speech therapist in Salt Lake once a week. It's a five month program. He starts this week and we are praying this helps him out. His mission president revealed that he typically doesn't keep companionships together for more than 2 transfers, but he felt strongly that Michael and his companion needed to be together for one more. Maybe this is part of the reason why.
**I'd commented in my email back to him last week that I was surprised he had done the mission tradition of burning a shirt because it's kind of a reckless thing to do and so it seemed out of character for him. I guess he took it to mean that I was worried that he'd done that. I wrote him back this week and assured him I wasn't worried about him. In fact, I was happy to see him letting loose a little. I know burning a shirt isn't the most mature (or safest haha) thing to do, but I was happy Michael did it because it's part of the mission tradition and I wanted him to have that. He is so "by the book" as a missionary that sometimes I worry he is too serious and missing out on some "legal" opportunities to relax and have fun.