Monday, June 29, 2009


The information for Elder DeGraw's mailbox # at the MTC that we initially received was changed. Here is the CORRECT info:

Elder Curtis Ryan DeGraw

MTC Mailbox # 255

Washington Everett
2005 N 900 E

Provo, UT 84604-1793

We received our first letter from him on Sat. (Yay!!) It was written the night before he entered the MTC, so there really isn't anything to share yet. However, he abbreviated the name of the mission in the return address on the envelope:

WA - EVR 0714

... so I'm sure if you want to abbreviate it that way, it will still get to him. :D

I know he'd love to hear from you!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Ryan entered the MTC this morning! My sister, brother-in-law, niece, and nephew brought him. They called afterward so I'd know he had officially arrived. I immediately called Ray, told the other kids, and put it on Facebook and my blog.

Here is his address for the next little while:

Elder Curtis Ryan DeGraw

MTC Mailbox # 294-0823

Washington Everett Mission

2005 N 900 E

Provo, UT 84604-1793

Using the complete address will facilitate delivery so he gets letters and packages more quickly.
I know he'd love to hear from any of you!

Also, for information's sake: No phone calls or visits are allowed. No hand deliveries are accepted for the missionaries. (Not a problem for most of us, since we aren't in hand delivery proximity!) Mail must come via USPS or commercial delivery services. No pizzas, fast foods, items needing refrigeration, or anything that is perishable.

Cookies, brownies, candy, etc are not only permitted, but thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated!! I've never heard of any missionary who didn't get excited about treats being sent in a package!! They frequently share with their companion or others.

Elder DeGraw/Elder Ryan will be very busy with initial training and classes. He will be able to write once a week - so don't be worried if it takes a little while to hear from him, especially at first. We will keep this blog updated with his news and experiences as he shares them!

Mrmn's mission has officially started!

PS: I have not used them, but a local company called offers homemade cookies and such, as well as printing out an emailed letter and delivering it to the MTC, pretty much same-day service. Many people have recommended this company. I am going to check it out, and thought I'd mention it in case any of you want to do so, as well.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Figuratively Tapped on the Shoulder

The following quote was shared in a comment on my (Papa's) blog. I am posting it here as a tribute to Elder DeGraw's choice to serve a mission:

"To every man, there comes in his lifetime, that special moment when he is figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered a chance to do a very special thing, unique to him and fitted to his talents; What a tragedy if that moment should find him unprepared or unqualified for the work which would be his finest hour." -- Sir Winston Churchill

I believe "his finest hour" in his entire life is yet to come - and I hope it will include a very special young woman whom Mama and I love dearly for her willingness to support our son in this decision, but I also believe making the decision to serve this mission constitutes "his finest hour" thus far. I think his friends and "adopted family" have a great argument that he has had many "fine hours" up to this point, and I don't mean to diminsh ANY of the things he has done for others prior to his mission, but this is a major commitment that is not "natural" to him (that he had to view as a "chance offered" in order to do) - and it is that "tapping on the shoulder" by someone other than his friends and family (I believe, by God Himself) that I believe fits this quote so well.

Monday, June 22, 2009

In the Beginning...

Ryan - a.k.a. Curtis, Mrmn, Citrus, etc - was set apart as a full time missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Sunday, June 21. We will share some of the advice Ryan was given at that time in an upcoming post.

[Hmm, I think I'll let Papa explain the definitions of terms some of you might not know... I could try, but y'all honestly don't want me to sort out the muddle in my mind after such a busy day, weekend, week, and month...] (With that introduction, this is Papa. To avoid confusion, I will add all my comments in parentheses and write them in italics, in the grand tradition of S. Morgenstern. If you don't understand that reference, you haven't truly lived.)

(Being "set apart" means, in practical terms, to be given a particular responsibility through an official ordinance. In theory, it means to be removed from normal life in some way and "set apart" from that normalcy. When someone is set apart as a Sunday School teacher, for example, that person steps outside their normal life for an hour each week and teaches a class. When a missionary is set apart, that person steps outside their normal life for two years and focuses on living the life Jesus lived for the three years of His mortal ministry - teaching and serving others without distraction or other responsibilities.)

Being set apart marks the official beginning of Ryan serving as a missionary, although his missionary service of two years starts when he enters the Missionary Training Center (MTC) on Wed June 24. Missionaries are called Elders or Sisters, depending on gender. (Lunchbox, just for you, to be obvious and obnoxious, as Elder DeGraw would want me to be, the "Sisters" are the women. *grin*)

Elder DeGraw, or Elder Ryan (or Elder Mrmn or Citrus or whatever your preference is), flew out of Cincinnati today, Mon June 22. He arrived safely in Salt Lake City, where he was met by my brother-in-law, niece, and nephew. He will stay with them in Orem until Wed morning, when they will take him to the MTC.

I know his decision to serve a mission is hard for some of his friends to understand completely. Please set your skepticism aside as you are able, and don't doubt that RYAN made this choice to serve. He was not forced, coerced, or brainwashed. He has many compelling reasons NOT to serve. Believe me, if HE didn't want to do this, he WOULDN'T be!

(Mama is a bit emotional about this point, so please understand. There are so many misconceptions about missions - and really Mormons in general - that it's hard sometimes to just sit back and hear the stupid stuff that gets said. It's not a reflection on any of you, necessarily.)

Know that God will watch over him. That doesn't mean that he will not have challenges (He certainly will. My mission, in many ways, was the hardest things I've done - including attending Harvard while married and working full-time, but it was the most rewarding things I'd ever done. Marrying Mama changed that, but that's for a different post on a different blog.), but he is doing a good work. I know God blesses our best efforts to do good. (no matter what they are or in what context they are offered by anyone - Brett made a profound statement Sunday before Ryan was set apart. He mentioned, in essence, that a way to honor Ryan's effort to be the best person he could be and do the most good he could do would be to do the same thing in whatever way is possible in your own lives. It might not be a full-time mission for a church, but it can be something - even if only a more concerted, intentional effort.)

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Story So Far...

I will be serving as a missionary in the Washington (state, not DC) Everett Mission for 2 years starting on June 24th, 2009.

For the first 3 weeks I will be in Provo at:
Elder Curtis Ryan DeGraw
Provo MTC
2005 N 900 E
Provo, UT 84604

After the first 3 weeks, until I know my actual address, letters can be sent to the mission office here:
Elder Curtis Ryan DeGraw
Washington Everett Mission
PO Box 13390
Mill Creek, WA 98012

And packages can be sent to this address:
Elder Curtis Ryan DeGraw
Washington Everett Mission
16124 35th Ave SE
Mill Creek, WA 98012

Transfers happen every 6 weeks so my address could change between different 6 week periods, although not everyone transfers every time so I may end up in the same place for a long time.

I am also not 100% sure if I will have email access where I am (some Mission Presidents allow it, some regulate it more, some prefer not to have it so until I get there I won't be sure) so old-school letters would be the most effective no matter where I am but if I do end up in an area with email then you can send me those at: