Tuesday, December 22, 2015

A Letter From My Uncle

This is my Uncle Joel
He is so inspiring.
I wanted to share part of a letter he sent me.

Elder Hackleman,

Well it has been a really long time since I have written you a letter. To be honest, I am NOT writing a letter now. Instead, I am dictating while driving to Twin Falls. It is a little easier to talk rather than write, especially while driving.

This might be a rather lengthy email. I felt you may want to know what is going on in our lives.

Things around our house have been pretty hectic lately. Tyler received his Eagle Scout award on November 29th. It was really cool and I am so proud of him. He also received an Eagle palm and has enough merit badges for the other two already. Football is over and the boys are starting their winter sports. Which reminds me, we have a new addition to our family that I want to tell you about.

XXXX is a 17 year old boy that we have known for a couple of years. When I say we know him, I mean that he has participated in football and baseball with Tyler. He has really only lived in American Falls a couple of years though so I did not really know him other than a teammate of Tyler's.

Last spring, Tyler came home from a baseball tournament and said that the entire day he was with xxx he notice xxx did not have anything to eat. Everyone was told to pack snacks and a lunch. xxx had neither. At the end of the day, they were on their way home after a long day of baseball and stopped at a restaurant to get food. xxx stayed on the bus because he said he was not hungry. Tyler recognized that really what was going on is he did not have any food and did not have any money to buy food. This was unacceptable to me and certainly freaked Ann out. Her motherly instincts kicked into high gear because she could not imagine a child going without food an entire day while participating in sports.

From then on, Ann made sure that Tyler had plenty of food to share and plenty of money to help xxx make sure he had enough to eat. From then on, Tyler insisted on sharing his food and buying food for xxx on their trips. At first xxx tried to resist but Tyler made sure he felt comfortable with the idea. We had Tyler try to find out what was going on in xxx's personal life because we could not understand why his parents would not be feeding him.

Tyler discovered that xxx did not have parents.

xxx's sister did her best to take care of her brother but she is only about 22 years old. We were out of town one time when Tyler received a call from xxx indicating he had been left in American Falls without anywhere to stay the night and it was raining. We finally found someone to take him in for the night but we were ready to make the 2 hour drive back to AF to get him.

At that point, we offered to have him come and stay with us. He declined at first because I think he did not want to put us out and he really didn't know us. The truth is, we didn't know him either. However, Ann and I had a strong feeling it was the right thing to do and we kept insisting.

I consulted with xxx's sister and she knew that it was absolutely necessary that xxx leave her home. He moved in on August 3rd and brought all of his belongings with him which he carried in his arms in a big pile. I then started the legal process to make sure that we could officially have him in our home and make decisions for him. Ann and I went through the difficult process of becoming licensed foster parents just so we could make it possible for him to live with us.

xxx was not a member of the church. We explained that as part of our family, he would be expected to go to church each Sunday with us but he did not have to accept any of the teachings. He agreed and explained that he did not intend to ever become a Mormon and wanted us to respect his religious beliefs. We agreed.

Amazing things happened and there a lot of funny stories that go along with them, but I will leave some stuff out to try to make this as brief as possible. A missionary serving in our area is a Tongan football star from Utah. He and his companion stopped by our house and got to know me and my boys, including xxx. He formed an instant relationship. As I mentioned, xxx plays football and loves the game. He was just starting his senior year when he met Elder Lui a huge guy who knew everything about football.

After a couple of visits to our home as well as a luau at Jared's house, xxx accepted an invitation to be taught by the missionaries even though he still insisted he wasn't joining the church.

Xxx had a few spiritual experiences which bore witness of the truth of the gospel to him. One of those incidents saved his life because we had talked anout spiritual promptings and listening to them. For example, he listened to the spirit when driving a dirt bike motorcycle onto a roadway during a homecoming date. He felt prompted to look a second time and saw a truck coming that he did not see before. He ditched the bike before getting hit by the truck. He was scraped up in the process but avoided certain death. He was able to recognize the source of those promptings and was able to feel the same thing when reading the Book of Mormon and praying about the church. These feelings helped him know God existed and the gospel was true. I am confident there were angels protecting him that day.

Tyler baptized xxx on November 7th, what would have been Grandpa Howard's 71st birthday and just two days before Elder Lui returned home to Utah from his mission. Yesterday, xxx received the Aaronic priesthood and was ordained to the office of a priest. We are very proud of him.

xxx has become part of our family. He considers Tyler and Beau his brothers and Oakley his sister. He calls me, dad and Ann, mom. He considers himself more of a Beck than anything else. He really fits right in.

xxx and Beau are both on the varsity wrestling team. That is quite an honor since our team is pretty good and Beau is a Freshman. We are really excited to see them wrestle this year and hope for great things. xxx is ranked 2nd in the state.

Tyler considered not playing basketball this year so he could focus on weight lifting. At the last minute, he decided to go ahead and play basketball again. He plays some of the time on junior varsity and some of the time on the varsity.

Oakley is taking ballet, gymnastics, and she is learning to play the violin. She is also keeping us very busy.

Since you went on a mission my partner and I purchased a new building. We renovated the inside as well as a significant landscaping makeover. We just had our open house this past week.

As you can see, we are very busy and are having a wonderful time. We think about you often and talk about your success as a missionary. We pray for you and hope that all is well. Keep up the good work and know there are others like xxx out there who need to be loved and taught the gospel. There are certain missionaries set apart to connect with those who are ready for the gospel.

We love you and hope you will stay safe.

Uncle Joel

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