Wow, I have just experienced the busiest week of my mission! Unfortunately, this time I couldn´t organize even a bullet list of what to tell you guys, so my letter might seem kinda random. Hopefully it will all make sense. Since we have had such a crazy week full of experiences, making a bullet list sounded pretty good to me, just so you guys can kinda get a feel of my new area. Ready? haha. :)
- My area has a bunch of hills EVERYWHERE.
- We work right by the main river, which actually serves as one of the borders to our mission. We enjoy looking at the cool view from the highest hills in our area.
- We are SO SO busy. I work as the secretary for the current Bishop in our ward. So I have Bishopric meetings and other duties on top of the ward council meetings and other church gatherings/duties.
- I also serve as an assistent/helper for the Branch President, which as you can imagine, keeps me really busy too.
- It has been a completely different experience than in my last area. Almost all the streets are paved, whereas in my last area about 70% were rocky, dirty passageways calles pasajes (pa--sah--heys) in San Martín, my last area.
- We live with the zone leaders! Oh yeah, I have to tell you guys about the people who live in my apartment. :)
- Elder Guitierrez, who is from Guatemala. He is really cool and tries to help us with our Spanish. He has a lot of stories and has served in the mission for about a year. And guess what? He and I just chatted for about an hour yesterday, which always makes me excited because I have seen so much progress with the language. Also, since he has lived with a lot of American missionaries during his time here, he has learned English. I didn´t believe him at first since tons of people say this when it´s not true. I actually started talking to him in basic English, and he understood A TON better than most of the people down here. He had studied for like six years in school, and he still really struggles to speak but can understand really really well. It´s cool. We help him with English, and he helps us with Spanish. His family is really big, and based on his pictures it seems like his hometown in Guatemala is actually just like the states. He knows all about the NBA and just a bunch of other stuff. He has a ton of relatives who live in the states, and that is why he knows English so well too. Anyways, gotta move on hahaha. He is about my height and LOVES soccer and American football :).
-Elder Allen. He is from Idaho, kinda one of those really chill guys, and he serves as the other zone leader with Elder Guitierrez. Elder Allen will finish his mission after this transfer (in six weeks), and so he has to train his companion everything so he can take over. He loves to go snow skiing, and he is SO DRAMATIC. haha. I don´t know how to describe him that well, and every missionary is so different. It´s funny how well you get to know people when you live with them :). But yeah, he is chill, super laid back, and really likes to cook. Kinda an interesting character. I feel like there is more to him haha. Oh well. He is a couple inches taller than me and super super skinny. Alright, gotta keep going. :)
- Elder Peterson. Yep, he is my new companion. He is from Boise, Idaho, the land of potatoes haha. I asked him if he had met Michael Meehan, but he didn´t recognize the name. He is actually shorter than me, which caught me by surprise, and he is about 200 pounds!!! He is really a pretty cool dude. He has served in the mission for almost a year, and yes, he arrived at the same time as Elder Guitierrez. They both will hit a year at the end of this transfer. He eats ALL THE TIME. It was kinda interesting just becuae I had gotten so used to my last companion. The first day we went into the grocery store, he bought four bags of oreos, caramel, cookies, and a bunch of chocolate cereal. He also bought a whole bunch of potatoes, just to show his Idaho charm haha, and he always makes french fries. He played on the line in football in his 3A highschool, and he really enjoys running. haha. I am just kidding about the last part. The first day when I met him, I asked if we could go to a park and do exercises in the morning. And yeah, he wasn´t too interested, but we might start one day haha. So I just try to do a few abs/pushup stuff in the mornings. My jumprope broke! OH well haha. I don´t mind that much. Overall, we get a long really well. He likes to talk, so we always chat as we climb the hills in our area and make our way to our appointments.
- WALLMMAARRRTTTT! Oh, I am not going to be able to describe this adequately to you guys. It felt like heaven when my foot first stepped into Walmart, the best place ever here. Here is a quick list of everything it has that my last crappy supermarket lacked, just so you guys can see the difference: air conditioning, donuts, more than four cash registers, three times as much fruit with tons of options, Skittles and Twix, sports section (I could finally find a frisbee), more than one brand of milk and cheese haha, and really just a huge selection. The selection of food is by far the biggest change. It is a supermarket, just like the one on Spring Cypress and 249 by my house. Okay, it isn´t that big, but it actually has a lot of stuff. Even though it doesn´t have everything, it has been a huge nice upgrade. Instead of oatmeal and plain corn flakes, I could buy frosted flakes!! Crazy. haha. Our last supermarket was acutally pretty good, and I felt so out of place when I stepped into Walmart. Anyways, just thought to let you know.
- As far as upgrades go, I finally finally finally have hot water. The shower is kinda dirty and pretty cramped, but the hot water makes all the difference. Try not using hot water in your shower, and that will give you a feel of my circumstances for the last three months of my mission. My experiences here have really humbled me and made me appreciate and count my blessings.
- Oven and stove. I was able to make eggs and even cooked a cake with a mix I could find at Walmart. It felt kinda weird being able to do this in the morning haha. This really was another nice change for me.
- We also have almost every church movie you can think of since we live with the zone leaders. So, as you might have guessed, every night during our 30 min of downtime, we watch a movie. They are the short ones like "The Restoration," "Finding Faith in Christ," and even "The Testamants," which is actually longer and plays for about an hour!
- I have learned so much Spanish already just by living with a native again. It helps a lot :).
- It´s like night and day. The Pdays here, when compared to those of my last area, are AWESOME. I have almost run out of time but still want to describe to you guys at least a little bit of what we did today.
The zone all gathered together, forming a small group of about eight companionships. First, we had a quick meeting to set some goals and talk about t-shirts that we will make as a Zone. Then we played kickball at the Stake Center where we had all gathered together. I know, kickball isn´t always the most fun, but we had a BLAST! We split up into two teams and played for about an hour out on the field. Then, what with all the heat and everything, we all wanted to cool off. The zone leaders went and bought three hunderd water balloons. With all of us working together, we filled them all up in about 15 minutes. Then we had a water war! haha. I´m sure you can imagine the scene of a bunch of us all running around and launching waterballoons. Then, after all of this, we still had more stuff planned. We went to Rey de Pizza, which translates to Pizza King in English. We all bought pizza, soda, salads, and empanadas. With all this food split between us all, we only had to pay about 15 pesos each, a really good price. Then we all ate together in the church for about an hour! Wow, what a great Pday. Next week we are going to try and tour some of the historical sites in Centro. I will be sure to keep you updated. Alright, just a few more facts before I have to go.
- We have Hermanas, or sister missionaries, in our zone. This felt really weird for me haha. In my last zone, since it was the poorest and most dangerous the sister missionaries never get called to serve there, which makes sense. :)
- I am in a really nice computer shack right now. I will send photos for sure next week. I forgot my camera today because we have been so busy.
I have grown so much on my mission, and even though everything listed above describes pretty well my experiences, there have been incredible spiritual experiences too. Every week, with my allotted hour to write, I feel as though I can only write 10% of everything that´s going on. I absolutely love my new area and the missionary work. I set up a baptismal date with one of our investigators yesterday, and hopefully we will have another successful baptism. I love you all, and thank you so much for all of the support. Gotta go, but just know that every once in a while, whenever I have a few short moments to just lay back and ponder, I think about you guys. I really hope you´re doing great. And thanks for everything you guys have done for me--both before and after the mission.
The Lord´s Missionary,