Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Letter from the Mission President

Letter from the Mission President of West Virginia Charleston Mission

Dear Elder Hicken,

This letter is one of congratulations for having met the Standard of Excellence in the West Virginia Charleston Mission.  It shows excellence in your obedience, in your faith, in your hard work and in your sacrifice.  These have all come together to allow the Spirit to be with you so that you could see someone come into the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  This is a great experience.  "And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!"  (Doctrine and Covenants 18:15)  And so for you this has been a very special period of time.

May you know that the Lord loves you and he has blessed you.  This is really His labor and His fruits.  He allows us to experience this joy as we participate in His work.  As you know, we never begin at the beginning.  He has done much preparation as we seek the elect.  That having been said, you need to be congratulated for your diligence.  What a great blessing to have these experiences.  There are many factors that come into play to accomplish this work and companionship unity is one of them.  Important also is the fact that now that you have met these standards you know that you can do it again.  The privilege and honor of what you have put into place will yield the fruit of your labor time and time again.  "I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise." (Doctrine and Covenants 82:10)  You have done what He has asked you to do.  Your standard has been high and you have met it.  I congratulate you immensely for all that you have done.  May you know how grateful I am for the service that you are rendering.

Bruce G. Pitt

Standard of Excellence
Performance in certain key categories of missionary labor:
  • One baptism in a two month period of time
  • Two investigators with a baptism date during one given week
  • Two investigators at Sacrament Meeting during that given week
  • Three lessons taught to investigators with a member present during that given week
  • Three new investigators found during that given week

Monday, March 25, 2013

Letter Home, March 25

Email home:

I hadn't thought that you're right next to Maddy until you mentioned the Temple! You'll have to tell Kai to text her and let her know! Maybe she'll come say hi while you're there or something. Then she can fill you in on everything I forget to say in my emails.

We actually got 4 inches of snow yesterday! They aren't used to the snow here, so Elder Hawes was warning me as we went shopping this morning that there was a good chance that all the milk, eggs, and bread could be gone. I was lucky and there was some left. I am staying pretty warm, but honestly cold here is nothing, except for the wind. Which is coooold. Makes me think of BYU-I.

I have yet to receive any of my cousin's letters outside of the MTC. I'm not sure how DearElders works still. Do you know?

I have 30 min to an hour to study spanish each day, which basically feels like having 5 minutes to clean the whole house after a massive flood. The people here speak so much english...haha, but really I actually get a lot of spanish practice in with our spanish investigators. I'll talk more about them in my "official letter" (see below) I guess.

Training is a piece of cake. Just feels like an MTC aftertaste.

Elder Hawes said that his parents asked him a few months in why he had never mentioned any investigators, so I'll try and include them when I write home!

Thanks for your letter!

-Elder Hicken
Elder Hicken's "Official letter"

Dear Family,
            Email time is so short! And we get kicked off as soon as time’s up. We get 30-60 minues based on how busy it is.  So this will have to do instead of an email (he sent home a hand-written letter). Sorry to whoever types this up for the blog, but thank you! I’ll try and make it short + sweet.
            So tell me all about Peru plans! Do you need visas? When do you leave, and where are you going? Where are you staying? For how long?
            Renen- Thank you for your unicorn. I CAN read your handwriting so your letter wasn’t a waste of time!
            Thanks for John’s address! We’ll see how quickly I can get sent on a letter to him.
            Hey Kai, send me all your swim events/times after every meet!
            Renen! It’s so cool that you’re teaching drum lessons! You can totally make bank with that!
            Kai, I’m glad that Parm (Miss Parmenter is the high school choir teacher and music department chair) is keeping it interesting, as usual.
            Dad! How’d the missionary training go? We had 21 lessons last week, so we made your goal! The stake here has a goal of 13.
            Could I ask a huge favor? Could you order me an aux cord and a usb charger from China?
            As a family, you should most definitely listen to ‘The Missionary Next Door! Esp. the part about dating + discussions.  Good stuff. Lots of parenting ideas, too.
I’ve decided I want D&C 88:133 in my entryway.
Art thou a brother or brethren? I salute you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, in token or remembrance of the everlasting covenant, in which covenant I receive you to fellowship, in a determination that is fixed, immovable, and unchangeable, to be your  friend and  brother through the grace of God in the bonds of love, to walk in all the commandments of God blameless, in thanksgiving, forever and ever. Amen.
Hmmm. Suggestions for trek… be a FAMILY! Have family scripture study, prayer, and whatever else you can to make it seem like you really are a family. As for the study the atonement and strive for unity, that sounds like what I’m supposed to do as a missionary. Maybe there’s a reason…
Sierra! Thank you for all the great questions! To answer them, some of our investigators names are Tim, Hector + Yolanda, and Farran. My daily schedule is study in the morning until lunch, then tracting (knocking doors) until dinner, and then we visit people at night. I did get your package! Thank you for your pictures and the scripture organizer! I took a picture of the first scripture I put in. You’ll  see it soon! Hmmm, my favorite thing is probably the confirmation from the spirit that someone is truly interested in learning more about the gospel.
 Alright! Well life is incredibly busy! So much to do, so much to teach, so much so learn! I hope everything is well in CO, that everything went great with the trip to UT! I’m doing great, practicing as much Spanish as I can. Actually, yesterday at church I taught the Spanish Principios del Evangelio (Gospel Principles) class, and I translated all of everything for our Spanish investigators (Hector and Yolanda).
It always seems like there is less and less time to write every week!
I hope all is well! I look forward to hearing from you again soon!
            Elder Hicken

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Letter from the Mission President

I don't have any more time to write, but here is a letter from my Mission President that talks a little bit about our meeting with Elder Oaks!
Dear missionaries, 
What a wonderful, very full week. We started off with 20 new missionaries coming and it was a wonderful time, getting to know them and spending a day together in training. Then big transfers as many came in and new trainers began their twelve weeks to help their new missionary become the best in the mission. We are of course sad to see good elders leave but they have been called to a new mission, life on the home front. Then the blessed weekend. Elder Oaks is so very kind and genuine. He loved being with all of you. Elder Hallstrom is very interested in the growth of the mission, in the missionaries, and in how we are really doing in the mission. Bishop Causse is very knowledgeable and has a desire to help with missionary work. Elder and Sister Lansing are so warm and good. We are grateful that he is over our area. 
Did you ever personally answer the two questions Elder Hallstrom asked: Why are you here? (we will say, on this mission,) and what do you expect from this mission time? We hope you all will ponder these questions and come to a resolve in your hearts. He quoted D& C 43: 8, 
And now behold, I give unto you a commandment, that when ye are assembled together ye shall instruct and edify each other, that ye may know how to act . . . how to act upon the points of my law and commandments, which I have given. 
We are to instruct and edify each other. We have used the word edify a great deal. When we teach we are to edify (build a structure) in the hearts of our investigators. If we seek to edify, we will feel the spirit of the Lord. In verse nine it says that we will bind ourselves to all holiness. That is an attitude of "I will do them, I will keep the laws and the commandments." 
He reminded us that we need to want to change, that we want to do something so this change will take place. We can know when the Spirit speaks and teaches us, because we want to change. If each of us does that, then collectively we will have no bounds as to the good we can do here. We need to decide only one time.
Elder Oaks was wonderful. Some of the things he said are as follows: This is His mission. Missionaries are in the service of God. He wants to take you from where you are to where you need to be. You have a direct line to the Lord. He will comfort, give peace, and extend forgiveness. All this comes from the Father through the Holy Ghost. When you are involved in the work of the Lord, the power behind you is more powerful than the obstacles before you. 
Moroni's promise is that if they pray and are intent on doing something then they will receive the knowledge they desire. He also said that success is not in baptisms. Success is in your doing the best you can every day. Do the work of the Lord in His way. Always be looking and keep your line in the water. 
Why is this the only true church? 
  1. It contains the fullness of the doctrine on such things as the plan of salvation and the nature of the Godhead. Truth enriches life.  
  2. The Priesthood has power to bind on earth as well as in heaven. 
  3. Our testimony and knowledge of the Savior is different than any other church. No one really knows what the atonement and resurrection are, but we can know that they are true. We need to bear witness of their truth and reality. 
As you review your notes, listen to the Spirit as it whispers to you what you need and what you can do to bring you to the next level. As you raise your own bar of obedience, hard work, prayers, and teaching, you will bring others with you. Then collectively we will raise the Standard of the mission and begin to do things in a wonderfully positive way. 
Keep your eye on the prophet and follow his lead. He will never lead us astray. God bless you in this great work. We are excited to see you all in the next two weeks. 
Pres. Pitts Missionary Truth: Missionaries that get out of their cars and get onto their bikes or onto their feet and open their mouths are consistently happier and more productive than those who don't.
Love to all, 
President and Sister Pitt

Monday, March 18, 2013

An interview with the Elder Hicken!

I'm crazy short on time today so I'll do my best to reply to everything I can, but I had to write an extra long letter, do some training activities and figure out some other stuff all duing my email time! CRAZY! I've just typed responses to your questions in your email in blue type! Thanks!

Hello Talon!

I don't want to take up your computer time by emailing you a whole letter, but I didn't think you would get snail mail in time either.  So here is just a quick note of questions for you to answer in case you need some prompts in writing us. I assume your P-days are Mondays now and we'll be hearing from you tomorrow.

We want to hear everything you can tell about everything! 
I'll try and tell you everything I can in the short time I have today!
I'm sure Mason was grateful to have you there.  I chatted with his mom for a while after stake women's conference last Thursday and it didn't sound like he had as good a relationship with his MTC district as you did.  We enjoyed hearing from Pres. Priday about how his brother came across you two packing the night before you left.  
It seemed like he was doing fine to me! But he seems really happy, and it also seems like he has grown up a lot since I last knew him. I'm glad President Priday [The MTC President] shared with President Priday [our Colorado Stake President, who is also the MTC President's brother] about our little run in!
Shoot!  A man walking by accidently unplugged my computer! =[ Even less time now... 
Jessica Myers spoke in sacrament mtg today, goes to the MTC soon.  Kiersten hopes to get her call maybe as soon as this week. 
Gosh darn that's super crazy! Kiersten better write me soon,...I don't have her address. Could you ask Kai to ask John what his address is or something? 
What do you think about:
  • Your new mission president 
So fantastic. Most definately one of the reasons I was sent to this mission. He is brilliant, and loving, and I've learned a lot from him in just the last few days.
  • Your trainer--and who is he? 

He's great! He is fom SLC and his name is Austin Hawes. He has been out for 10 months and I'm his second son. Our posterity has a huge reputation here in the mission, and so when everyone heard who was training me, they all came up to me and told me how great it was going to be!
  • The ward yesterday 

Great! I love being around memebers! Except one thing really threw me off. The girls all wore immodest skirts! What's up with that? I don't know if there is some reason, like it's imposible to get modest skirts here, or what, but I thought it was terrible. We're talking homecoming dress short. (you might have to ask Kai just how short that is)
  • The work so far 

The work is fantastic! I love it here in Lynchburg. We are right next door to the Baptist BYU called Liberty University. To graduate from it you have to take 3 credits of anti-mormon literaure. Nothing really extraordinary has happened to me yet though. Though if anybody has a change of getting tarred and feathered....just kidding. It's pretty safe around here. Nothing the Lord can't handle.
  • Where you live 

It's a mess. Just a falling apart apartment. It's honestly not terrible, and we have memory foam mattresses, but there is mold all over the bathroom, the vents smell crazy weird (we think it's the people around us) and the kitchen is from 1805. There are 3 handles on the drawers and cupboards out of the 10 we should have. There is even one door missing. The stove is too big, so one of the drawers can't open all the way. There isn't any disposal. But it's all ok because the ward here is amazing! We are being fed almost every night! I have spent probably 3 hours so far cleaning up the apartment, but today we are going to go buy a bunch of cleaning supplies. We have a bunch of weights though! And a punching bag! hah, I'll take pictures, but I accidently left my camera with the Zone Leaders when we saw Elder Oaks on Saturday (I'll tell more about that later, don't worry) I'll probably get it back on the 28th.
Where are you? 
I'm in Lynchburg, VA.  I don't know what happens to letters written on DearElder.com, but if you could find out and let me know that would be great!
[This just in from your Blog Editor:  At this point, you must create an account on DearElder.com.  You will select Talon's mission from the list West Virginia Charleston.  You can still compose your whole letter right on the site, then you will pay $0.46 for postage.]
Are you still thrilled to be stateside? 
Of course! I'm on a mission, aren't I? It's crazy!
Any surprises, or are things about what you expected? 
I didn' know what to expect, but WV is kind of like mountain town Colorado mixed with old downtown Chicago. It's really interesting. There isn't a straight piece of road in the whole mission!
Did they have any stuff to lend, like a coat?
Missionaries just take and leave stuff from the apartments, so I've got the same coat that we got from Mr. Mac. Except this one is free. I don't know what else I would want to borrow! Except maybe a comforter, but I'm just using all of my sheets at once, and I'm acually really hot at night. Mostly because of the memory foam.
Where are you using a computer right now? 
I'm at the Lynchburg public library!
I sure hope you have ample time to write--we just assume you actually arrived and things are going along normally since we haven't heard anything.  It will be good to actually know.

We are so happy you are serving your mission and we imagine the great things you are doing and learning.  You have such a wonderful enthusiasm and willingness to put you shoulder to the wheel.

Love, Mom

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Last Chance to Write to Talon in MTC

The Count-down is on.  Only a few more hours until Talon leaves the MTC for good, ready to embark on his mission.

If you want to get one last note in from DearElder.com, be sure to submit it by 12:00 PM on Monday.

For all future mail until he sets off to Peru, you can send it straight to the mission office in West Virginia:

Elder Talon Hicken
West Virginia Charleston Mission
888 Oakwood Road, Suite 310
CharlestonWV 25314-2071

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Visa Status Letter

March 08, 2013

Missionary Department
50 E North Temple St 3WW
Salt Lake City, UT 84150-5400

Elder Talon Steimle Hicken
888 Oakwood Rd Ste 310
Charleston, WV 25314-2071

Dear Elder Hicken
Visa Status

By now you are aware that your visa to Peru has not yet been approved.  While this is undoubtedly a disappointment, please know that we are doing everything possible to secure your visa.  We will notify you immediately when it is received.  We ask that you and your family members not do anything, such as call or email the consulate, to try to secure your visa more quickly.  Such actions may actually slow down the visa process already in place.

While you are waiting, your mission experience in the United States will prove to be a great blessing in your preparation to serve in Peru.  We encourage you to work hard, remain focused, and be involved in all aspects of missionary work.  As you serve the people int he West Virginia Charleston Mission, your testimony and ability to teach will increase, you will set the pattern of study and hard work for the rest of your mission, and you will come to love the people.

May the Lord continue to bless you and your family as you dedicate yourself to preaching the gospel to those who are seeking and ready to accept your invitation to come unto Christ.


Eduardo Gavarret
Assistant Executive Director

Friday, March 8, 2013

Getting ready to leave the MTC

Our first assignments as we await our visas to go to Peru
 Elder Lehman: Indepence, MO (leaving Mon, March 11, 2013)
Elder Bradley, Elder McKell, Elder Hicken:  West Virgina Charleston Mission
English Speaking (leaving Tues, March 12, 2013 at 4 AM!)

The District on Blue Tie Day
Elder Lehman, Elder McKell, Brother Whittaker -- our teacher, Elder Hicken, Elder Bradley,  ? 
 ...On Gold Tie Day
...On Red Power Tie Day
Group picture with the departing sisters from District B, going to the LA Temple Visitor's Center

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Hola de la ultima semana!

So does anybody know anything cool about West Virginia? Recent social, economical, political issues? Demographics? Statistics? Weather? Interesting stories? ¿Chistes? ¿Chismes? ¿Algo? Gracias por compartirlo. I just received my travel plans, and I report to the travel office at 4am on Tuesday morning. Elder Lehman leaves at 6am on Monday. It's going to be hard leaving him, or letting him leave us. What an amazing role model.

You´ll probably find this link interesting: Elder Hicken's Mission Map

Español es tan divertido, y cada dia es mas dificil hablar Engles sin usando Español tambien. Pero, creo que en las meses anteriores voy a usar Engles con mas frequencia. ¡Ojala que no olvido como usar mi Español! 

(Spanish is so fun, and every day it's getting more difficult to speak English without using Spanish also. But, I think in the upcoming months I'll be using English more...I hope I don't forget how to use my Spanish!)

There are no Spanish stakes or even wards in my mission. All of us are reassigned there, except for Elder Lehman who is going to Independence, MI. Poor Elder.

I'm going to go get my farewell haircut at 11!

This week I came across Matthew 10:37-39.
He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.  He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.
 What I took away from this is the importance of prioritizing. In Matthew 22: 37-40...         
 Jesus said unto [the Pharisees], Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt alove thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
However, as important as the two laws are, if one has them prioritized incorrectly, the Lord himself says the individual "is not worthy of me". With regards to Matthew 10:38, I consider my actions right now to be lifting up my cross, and following after the Lord. I am striving to be worthy of my Savior; to be worthy in His eyes. Furthermore, I intend to one day learn to lose my life for the sake of my Lord. To "forget [my]self and go to work," laboring in the vineyard of Jesus Christ, with my life, well being, subsidence, and sustenance relying on Him.

 I just want to share an amazing quote that inspires me so much every day:
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others." -Marianne Williamson
What a wonderful thought. How inspiring. How empowering.

Alma 26:30And we have suffered all manner of afflictions, and all this, that perhaps we might be the means of saving some soul; and we supposed that our joy would be full if perhaps we could be the means of saving some.

I just want to bring one. That's all I ask, and it's more than I need. Every baptism is a gift from God to me and my companion.

In a recent devotional, the speaker shared a story about his first transfer, where his trainer (in a few more words than this) told him to look back on his mission once he was looking out the window of the USA-destined plane in 2 years, and ask God if his mission was 'acceptable'. I am determined to follow suit. And I am determined to receive a positive answer.

Thanks for all of the letters, support, and packages!


Elder Hicken

(P.S. Anybody have a spare West Virginia Flag?)

Friday, March 1, 2013

More Photos from our Peruvian Elder!

Lima Central, are you ready for Elder Hicken?
He is ready for you!
 Elder Hicken poses with his Peruvian Flag
Best District EVER!
 The district and a Peruvian Hermana -- she was so excited to see our flag!
Elder Bradley, "Vamanos!!"

 I asked our district to start matching ties every day and they said that sounded good. Now the disease is spreading to the rest of the zone. Today was blue tie day.
I got my name on the TV!  I left my scriptures in the cafeteria -- Consider this my 15 minutes of fame.
Another note for my loyal dishwashers.
Elder McKell stashing his milk in our makeshift refrigerator (a snow bank outside our dorm).
 Elder Mckell with the heart strand in our classroom
Sometimes after a lot of personal study,
things get tiring.

TO DO: From Talon

See if you can accept these 2 challenges from Talon during the next week.  If you can, send him a letter or a DearElder email about your experiences and thoughts.

"Last minute favors from Talon"! 
  1. Read Alma 26:30, Alma 29:9, Alma 34:16, and D&C 10:5  
  2. Bear your testimony to someone (God counts as someone) every day.  
Remember his words from yesterday: If you have a missionary you want to be happy, just share with them about your scripture study, fasting, and prayer, and the resulting spirit of prophesy, revelation, and knowlege. And thanks to our new high tech system, you can even write them down and pay a small fee (stamp) to have it delivered right to them!

Talon also included:  Can you forward me the emails Tyler sends home via dearelder? and Jason too? And Thanks for Joseph's!  thanks!

Also, to G&G Hicken, I met Bill and Susan Johnsten (sp?) the other day and I told them that I'd tell you hi!

Ps. I'm now the senior comp, but no longer DL.


-Elder Hicken