Monday, October 28, 2013

Pictures only!

 Tyson spent this P-Day trying to catch up on emails to everyone else.  We were so anxious to hear about how the baptism went, but all we got was this quick note and a few pictures.  

 The baptism was incredible! I loved every minute of it. The Spirit was so strong and I was so blessed for the chance to baptize him.  
-Elder Cottam

This pictures is of Tyson wearing the Halloween tie 
Lauren's grandma bought for her to send to him. 
It even makes scary sounds!

Until next week....... 


Monday, October 21, 2013

Life as a Missionary!

  Here is the email we received from Tyson today!  

Hey Family and Friends!
  Thanks for all the support. Thanks for all the love. It means a lot to me. I am trying my best to write you guys back. I hope you know that I love ALL of you. I think about you everyday. You guys make me a better man. I am learning so much. Missionary life is completely different than everyone thinks it is. haha. But it's a blast at the same time.
  Last week we taught a total of 21 lessons and we have 8 new potential investigators. The people of Marion are very nice to us and I'm truly learning how to love the people. I want to get to know them. I'm not here to push religion on someone. I'm here to invite. I'm here to love. I'm here to build upon their faith in Christ. There are so many people with a strong Christian Faith. I love it! They just have a hard time with "Change". The fact is, were not trying to change them. We are trying to build upon their faith. As soon as people realize this, they open up.
  The members in Princeton Branch are so loving. They know what TRUE conversion is and they are trying their best to follow Christ. They have blessed my life in so many ways. I love the support they give to us. They don't have a lot of members, but they are growing! I love helping a small branch/ ward. I want to come back in a couple years and I want to see multiple churches and multiple branches/ wards. I KNOW that this can be done. The members are willing to help in any way possible. Their testimonies have strengthened my testimony in so many ways. They know true Humility. They know true Happiness. They want to share it. Can we say that we are the same?
  Elder Fisher and I received a referral from this Lady one time. She wasn't interested, but she knew a guy across the street who "needs Christ in his life". So we went over and found this couple. It wasn't the "guy" she was talking about, but we still got to know them a little bit. Well on the next visit... we asked them to be baptized. They said yes! BUT... sadly....the next visit, they had talked with their preacher and they said that they are set in their ways. Darn! We will still talk to them once in awhile, but we don't know. It was still a learning experience for all of us!
  Elder Fisher and I cover the Marion Area, the Fredonia Area, the Kuttawa Area, and the areas in the middle. haha. We have a lot to cover, but we are making progress! The Sisters cover Princeton and Cadiz. (Only 2 Areas, but we share about the same amount as them) Well guess what...? The Sisters have been teaching a guy named Ethan for a couple weeks or so and he has been coming to Church for the past 2 weeks... He has prayed... He has read the Book of Mormon (a little bit haha)... He knows it's true... He has prayed about Baptism. The Sisters received a text this morning and Ethan wants to be baptized this Saturday!!!! The best part... he asked ME to baptize him!!!! My First Baptism!!!! I've got to know him a little bit when he has come to Church. He is a nice guy! I am so excited to baptize him! I know that I didn't teach him, but I still think that it's pretty awesome!!
  We are also teaching an old guy named, "Jay Landers". He is making a lot of progress. The spirit is there more and more. We also met 2 guys named, "Ricky and Ricky" haha. Yes they have the same last name! haha. We are hoping to make a lot of progress with these guys! We are also talking to a girl named, "KENDRA" but we need a member because she is a single mom. I totally have a good feeling about here! haha. Small world.
  Well I hope everything is going well! I love and miss all of you! Thanks for all the support. I love all the letters and emails. I love you!
-Love Elder Cottam

P.S. I am completely safe, happy, fed, and having fun while on my mission. 
(He sent this just to his mom!)

Here are some pictures from the last few weeks!
 These were taken at the Ham Festival in Cadiz, KY.

 His apartment. It looks really nice!

The scenery!

Monday, October 14, 2013

3rd week in Marion!

Hey Family!
  The past month has been a crazy adventure! I couldn't do it without your help and your prayers. Thanks for all the support and letters. I wish that I could take a whole day and write to each one of you, but I just don't have the time. I am trying my best to write you guys back. Thanks for all the emails and letters. They warm my heart!
  Well Missionary Life is pretty intense! I am trying my best to be Obedient with Exactness and I have a fantastic trainer! Elder Fisher has taught me so much and I am so blessed to have him in my life!  We get along great! He is the best! I am so grateful to have a trainer that is so obedient! I have learned so much from him. We teach each other and we have a great time together. He is so funny! The Lord knew that we would work well together.

Well right now, we are just trying to contact the less active members in Marion, but we aren't finding very many of them. Either they aren't home, wrong address, or they have moved. That's okay though cause we are finding a lot of people to talk to. They are full of love in Marion. They just have a hard time changing, but we have a good feeling about this area. We don't have a ton of progressing investigators, but we are just starting out with the basics. It is cool to see how the Church expands. I can't wait to get a Family Home Evening started. If we can do that, we should be set. We are finding a lot of potential investigators. The prayers from you guys have helped a lot. I pray for you guys all the time!
  The food is... well, we don't have a member in Marion, so we haven't had too many members feeding us dinner. But that is okay! We have $125.00 per month to spend on food and every PDay we get to buy groceries for the house. I have to watch what I get, but I can find a lot of basic foods. I am using my money well and I am getting 3 meals every day. We also ate at the local restaurants in Princeton since it took awhile to get a place in Marion. The places are pretty much the same as in Utah. The members also take us out to eat when we are in Princeton. They have given us so much and we are so blessed to have them in our lives. 

  We recently went to the Ham Festival in Cadiz, KY. We had a TON of success. We had so much help and support from the Ward and so much help from other missionaries in the District. This was a 2 day Fair. The results are:
-95+ Copies of the Book of Mormon
-3500 Pass Along Cards
-222 Surveys given out
-15 Lessons Taught
-20 Members
-8 Sets of Missionaries (4 Sets each day) (Elder Fisher and I did both days..Tired... haha)

  We had a lot of success with that. Salt Lake contacted the First Counselor and he told us that the Church was so proud and so blown away with the numbers we produced!

 After the first day, the members that helped with the booth also took us out to Cadiz Restaurant. It was a buffet style restaurant and it had SO much food. That was the first time I had "real" Kentucky Fried Chicken. haha. It tasted the same. haha. So you don't have to worry about the food. I also tried my first Deep Fried Pizza!!! and Deep Fried Candy Bar!!! (Snickers) The candy bar was so DELICIOUS!!! haha. Don't worry Lauren, I still weigh 150 and I work out every morning. We also walk a lot!  SO I'M NOT GETTING FAT! haha.  I love you guys! I miss you!
-Love Elder Cottam

These are the only pictures we received from Tyson this week.  I guess Elder Fisher had to sleep on the floor the first few nights.  Now he has a bed!  The Senior Missionaries made sure they have everything they need. Tyson said it was taking too long to upload pictures, so he is sending us his photo card.  Hopefully we will have more pictures by the end of the week!


Monday, October 7, 2013

2nd week in Marion, KY

Tyson didn't send any pictures this week, but we did
get a great email.  Enjoy!

   I'm doing pretty great! I miss my Family and Friends a lot though. Each day is like a roller coaster, but each day gets better and better! Kentucky is a pretty interesting place! haha Especially Marion! It only has about 3,200 people! Dad said that there was about 220,000, but that is far off! haha! This is the smallest town that I've been in by far! I love the people here. They are so nice to us. They have a ton of Baptist here! haha. They haven't read the Book of Mormon, but they still take it from us when we offer it to them. We have been teaching a lot of lessons from the door step of their house and we are leading our zone with the amount of Book of Mormons we give out, but the only hard part is getting the second lesson. We have a bunch of potential investigators, but it's hard to contact them again. We have only been in Marion for a week, so we are doing pretty good. Especially for opening up a new area! I never knew how hard it was to open up a new area, but I am ready for the challenge! I am learning a lot from Elder Fisher! He is 23 and he has been out for a year!
  Conference was fantastic! It made me feel like I was at home again! I loved all the talks and I loved hearing from the Prophet! We had to drive down to the Princeton church because that is the only church we have around us! haha. The members that go to the church are really nice and they have a lot of love. We spent most of the day in Princeton on Saturday and Sunday. Conference was a little different, but still had the same spirit and it still helped my testimony grow!

   I will try to get you pictures as soon as possible. Today is a half P-Day because we are having the zone P-Day on Thursday and we will play dodge ball and lots of other fun games. Today I only have an hour and a half for computers. I didn't really write an experience letter this time. I'm just emailing everyone back. Things are still a little hectic here, so give me a second to get caught up. I promise that my letters will be better once I get used to being here. Can you believe that I've almost been on my mission for a month? 4 days and it will be a month! Crazy stuff!
   I love and miss all of you! I love the emails. I've received only one letter. I'm fine with that cause I know that it is expensive to send a letter. I still would like a letter from you guys every once in awhile! It was the letter from you about Jackson's blog. I loved what he said. I will learn from him! 

  I think about you guys all the time! I love you!
-Love Elder Cottam

Saturday, October 5, 2013

First week In the Mission Field.......

We finally heard from Tyson on Monday, September 30th.  It was great to hear how his first week in the mission field had gone.  Here is the email we got from him for the whole family.  Then we each got another one from him.  He told us all to be grateful for all we have.  Be grateful for our Utah church experience.  He said we are so blessed to have so many member around us. 

Hey Mom! (and family)
Ok where do I begin! This week has been the craziest week of my life. I arrived in Tennessee on Monday around 3. They had about 35 missionaries going to the Tennessee, Nashville Mission. The biggest group ever!! They even had more Sister Missionaries than Elders! President Anderson and Sister Anderson are the greatest! They made us feel welcome and they were so loving! I love them already. They had the assistants teach us in separate groups, while they did interviews with the President and his wife. They are such great people. Well that took all day. We had to make sure that the luggage got to the house. They made sure everyone was fed. Then we went to bed around 12:30 AM!! haha The mission home was huge! I loved spending the first night in there. The next day we went to a stake center. The stake center was right by the Tennessee Temple! It is a tiny temple! haha I can't wait to go in it! So we went to the stake center and we had a devotional. Then they were talking to us about our Trainers. Then we gathered in the gym and they introduced the new 35 missionaries and they introduced the Trainer Companions. Then they gave us a letter and we went up to the pulpit / stage area and read where we were assigned to labor and who our trainer was. I was assigned to the Marion, Kentucky Mission! My Trainer is Elder Fisher! I'll try to get a picture to you guys. He is awesome. I've learned so much from him! He is very obedient and very nice. We get along really well! So we get done with out meeting and start heading off to our area. The only problem is.... We are opening up Marion!!! They haven't had Missionaries in Marion for about 5-10 years. So we have to start off fresh! Opening a new area is pretty difficult. They also didn't have an apartment ready for us.... Crazy stuff. haha So we've been staying in Princeton with some members. We barley moved into our apartment today! It's actually a small little house. It's very nice. So we have been traveling back and forth between Princeton and Marion. (about 24 miles one way! about 30 minutes to get there) We have been looking for less actives in both areas. We only found a couple. Either bad addresses, No answer, or the address doesn't make sense. Luckily Elder Fisher bought an awesome GPS to help us out. If we didn't have the GPS, it would've been really hard. The other fun fact about Marion and Princeton, is we only have 1 church / stake center for the area around it. The boundaries of the "stake" is about 100 miles across. Having the church in the middle. So about 50 miles in each direction! CRAZY! These people have barley anyone in the zone. There are too many Baptist and other churches. haha They have a church every 5 seconds. haha They are nice people though. VERY HUMBLE! They go to our church because they know it's true and they have no one forcing them to go. Sacrament meeting was incredible. These people have nothing, but they truly have EVERYTHING. They will do anything to help us out. Our first night in Princeton, we stayed with the Wrights. They are very nice. Then we had to move to the Baird's house because the Wrights daughter came home early from the school break. The Baird's have been letting us live with them most of the week. I love them! They are so nice and they fed us food and made sure we had everything we needed. It was hard to get ready for the day and still stay packed. They have barely any apartments up in Marion, so it took awhile to get something. Elder Fisher and I are just grateful to finally be in a place now.
      Missionary work is different than I thought it would be, but it's getting better! The first couple of nights I was having a hard time getting used to the area, but each day gets better and better! Elder Fisher an I have already taught 23 Lessons, we have found about 10 new investigators, talked to 5 less-active members, and taught 2 members. Elder Fisher says that is a lot for a start! Especially opening up a new area! We don't have a lot of info about this area. Elder Fisher has been out for more than a year and he has never been to Marion. We are doing our best to make this area awesome and we are going through this new experience together! The computers only let us get on for an hour at the library, but I'll see what I can do to get more time. That is why I'm just telling you as much as I can. I want to tell you more!!!
-Elder Fisher is from Idaho, Idaho Falls
-He is 23
-Active Members in my area, about 40- 50 (we can fix that! haha)
-Am I glad that I'm serving? YES!!!
-Temperature? Humid, but we have a car and right now, we haven't been in the sun very much cause we have been trying to contact less-active members. Still pretty hot.
-Water taste? UGH! we got a filter and hopefully it will work haha. It's not too bad :)
-Will I come back with an accent? NOPE! People speak a little different, but you don't stay with their accent. I've seen a TON of missionaries that have been here for a long time and they sound normal! haha
-There are about 250 missionaries in my mission right now. By the end of the year, we should have more Sisters than Elders! crazy!
-We have a huge mission!
Got to go for a second. I'll see what I can do! I love you guys! I miss you!
This is the address that you use to send me letters! It won't change throughout my mission. It is the Mission Home. They tell us to have you send it through them. They know our apartment so they will just send it to us. Make sure to write my name before the address as it is shown below. My P-Day is are Monday.
(Use Post Office)
Elder Tyson T. Cottam
105 Westpark Drive Suite 190
Brentwood, Tennessee 37027

Phone Call?

We knew Tyson was leaving for Tennessee on Monday, September 23rd.  That was only 12 days in the MTC.  CRAZY! He sent a picture of his itinerary, so we knew his plane left at 7:10 a.m. We were awake and waiting all morning hoping to hear from him. Sometimes missionaries don't have time to call so we weren't positive we would hear from him.  When 6:00 came and went my hopes were getting low.  Then at 6:10 my cell phone rang.  As soon as I heard his voice my eyes teared up.  It was so GREAT to hear his voice. I put him on speaker phone and we all able to talk to him.  He told us a little about the MTC and how things had been going.  We only got to talk to him for about 10 mins.  It wasn't nearly long enough.  His companion had a ward member who was flying out that morning and he met them and let them use his cell phone, but his flight was leaving soon so he had to go.  I am so glad we got to talk to him, but I can see why they don't let the missionaries call home often.  It was hard.  We had a family hug and a quick cry and then we went to work and school.  Around 12:45 that afternoon I received another call from Tyson.  He was able to call again during his layover.  It was so fun to talk to him again.  We only talked for about 2 minutes, but it was worth it.  

That was Monday morning.  We didn't hear anything all week.  We didn't hear if he had made it to Tennessee.  We just kept thinking I guess we would of heard if he hadn't made it.  It was a LONG week for me.  At least at the MTC we knew where he was and what he was doing.  We didn't know anything and it was killing me. Then on Saturday, September 28th we FINALLY got a letter from Tyson's mission president.  It had three pictures in it.  One of Tyson with the mission president and his wife, one of Tyson and his new companion Elder Fisher, and one with the all the new Missionaries in Nashville.  They had 35 new missionaries.  The letter told us Tyson was assigned to serve in Marion, Kentucky.  It was so good to finally know where he was.  Marion is a very small town with a ton of other churches, but no LDS.  We knew he would definitely have his work cut out for him.   

First Letter and Pictures!

We received a letter from Tyson on Saturday, September 14th.  It was so fun to hear from him two days in a row.  Then we didn't hear anything again until Friday, September 20th.  We received 1 quick email and then about 28 emails of pictures.  And, I was so worried he wouldn't take any! :)  I LOVED seeing his week in pictures. I cried when I first saw him with his name tag on.  

Hey Mom!
  I miss you guys so much. I think about you guys all the time. I love all the Dear Elder Letters that you guys send. They mean the world. Especially the package that I got a couple of days ago! It was so cool opening it up and seeing everything that you guys had sent me! I love all the food! There is a little too much though ;) haha just kidding! I love it all. I was so grateful to hear that dad passed his policy test! I know that he has been working so hard on it. I know that he will do awesome in the next couple of tests. I'll send you another email that tells about my experiences. :) I love you Mom! <3

Love Elder Cottam

First Email!

We received our first email from Tyson on Friday, September 13th.  While he was in the MTC, Friday was his P-Day.  It was so great to hear he was loving it!

Hey Mom! 
This is the coolest experience ever! I love the MTC! The spirit is here so much and I am loving every single second that I'm here. The classes are amazing, I love the way they express the gospel! I am having so much fun. I have so much to tell you, but I don't have a lot of time to express my feelings. I love all of you. I miss all of you so much, but I know that I'm supposed to be here. They take such good care of us. They feed us really well, the food is really good. I thought that they would have more options, but they certainly have a ton of food and usually I find something to eat. They also have an endless supply of drinks. I love all the people around me. They want to share the gospel. They all want the spirit and they want others to be happy. I love the happiness that I feel while I'm here. The other Missionaries are so nice to us, they want to help and they make you feel welcome. They seem like older Missionaries, but they've only been here for 1 week! They say that we will be in the same position as them when we hit Wednesday! Crazy huh? I have already learned so much from the classes. The best part about all the classes is the fact that there are only 8 of us. Elder Snow is my companion and he is awesome! He is a pretty big strong guy, but he cares a lot about others. So, my class is, Elder Snow and I, then Elder Godfrey with Elder Wilkinson, Sister Rokovitz with Sister Even, and Sister Leavens with Sister West. They are my district. I love them all! They want the gospel in their lives and they want to share is with everyone! I love the small class size because it helps us concentrate and feel the spirit as a "Family". Elder Godfrey and Elder Wilkinson room with us. It is the perfect size room for 4 Elders. We have enough room, our own closet, and we get along. The room isn't too big, but it isn't too small. We don't have a lot of free time, our schedule is busy! I wish we had more time to prepare lessons or just to sit down and reflect. I want to write a personal letter to everyone, but I just can't. I will tell you more about my experiences in another email. This is an amazing place. These Missionaries are serving the Lord with their heart and Heavenly Father is proud of them. I know that he is proud of them. I love and miss all of you! I hope you know that even though I won't be able to write you a long letter, I still love you and care about you! Never think that I forgot you and never feel that you guys come last! I want to be doing a million things at once, but I can't. I'll write to you guys when I can! I'm still figuring out the time that I can write to you. I love you!
     -Elder Cottam

Entering the MTC

Tyson entered the MTC on Wednesday, September 11th at 12:45pm.  That morning we met for breakfast with some of our family.  It was a great morning and a great way to say goodbye.

After breakfast, we headed down to Provo.  

About half way there my phone went off with a reminder:

We arrived in Provo about an hour before our scheduled drop off time and decided to walk around the temple grounds. 

Then it was time to drop him off.  It was one of the hardest things we have ever done.  It is so hard to hug your son for the last time for 2 years.  I was videoing so I didn't get a picture of me hugging him, but I did.  Then I got in the back seat with Kendra and we cried half way home.  We know he is going to be an amazing missionary but man that was hard!

Preparing to Leave

We spent the days before Tyson entered the MTC finishing up buying everything he needed and packing.  It was great having Grandma Wanda there to help. 

On Tuesday, September 10th at 9:00 p.m. we went over to our Stake Center and Tyson was sent apart as a Missionary.  It was an incredible experience.  It was awesome that Tyson's Dad was his first companion. Our Stake President gave Tyson a amazing blessing and promised great blessings for him and our family if he followed the rules and was faithful. It was great to have Tyson's siblings and his grandparents and great-grandpa there with us.