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Monday, September 24, 2012

Hello you all again!


Another week has come and gone. 
A few things that are in my head now that I probably will forget later.
It’s crazy here. You ask specifically for water and the people bring pop. I had vowed to only drink pop if that was the only option before I got in the field and now I realize that often, it is the only option. It’s crazy how much grape soda I have drunk. Sad actually.
Another thing is the black widows. They are everywhere. I can’t get a good picture of the big ones outside our door but there are tons of massive ones all over our complex. Luckily none in the apartment but we do have roaches which is nasty...
I'll send a pic of the scary ones soon.
I'll try to answer all the million questions y’all sent and then get to writing about what’s been going on.

1. Do you need us to send you a new suit that will fit? I need some time to figure everything out. First step is getting a good smile, then I can move on to caring about my threads. I don’t need it quite yet. 
2. Is your backpack working okay?  It's great. Thanks Jacob. Funny story about the backpack, One day it was especially delicious, I mean hot, and I sweat so much I sweat through my undershirt, through my shirt, through the backpack, through the liner and all the way through one of the pamphlets I was carrying and through my scripture case. It was disgusting. Luckily it didn’t go through the cover of my Book of Mormon cause I'd have been pissssssed.
3. Why are you in a three-pack?  I am a 3 pack because I was delayed.  3packs are rare. 
4. Where are your companions from? Elder Bennett is from Birmingham, Alabama and Elder Bishop is from Lake Orion. Elder Bennett has been out for 15 months and Elder Bishop has been out for about 8. They are both awesome guys. Elder Bennett is a runner and just an all around cool guy. We have some good talks. He calls me his son. An honorable title. He is my trainer so I will be with him for the next transfer and then who knows after that. Elder Bishop is a big computer guy. He loves Dungeons and Dragons and World of Warcraft. He was homeschooled and is from Michigan. He loves talking about fantasy stuff and loves Korean martial arts.
Elder Bishop, Elder Anderson, Elder Bennett
5. Have you been taking any pictures? I can’t bring my camera out and about because it is too dangerous. On special occasions I can but usually it has to stay at our house. I feel bad bc I want to take lots of pictures of all the cool stuff but there just isn’t a way too... :/
6.  Where did Elder Ruiz go? E Ruiz is in an English area next to the temple. I think its called sunrise? I'm not exactly sure. I only got to see him at the temple the other day and so we didn’t talk very long and not very loud either.
7. Did you know that there is a Zombie Apocalypse store in Vegas (the only one in the world)? Did you know that there is a Zombie Apocalypse store in Vegas (the only one in the world)?
8. What are you doing to stay hydrated if you can't drink the water?  I don’t know what will be the best way to get water. I'm still 'researching.'
9.  How is your bike? Bike is great! Light and fast. And the lights work really well as well. I'm not very good at biking but it's not the bike’s fault.
10.  How is your stomach doing?  Stomach is great except for sometimes the large amounts of greasy Mexican food get to me. But I'll survive.

Before I forget this, and/or run out of time....
I ate it Saturday. I fell soooo hard. I was biking and (of course) I was waving to everyone. I waved to someone and then saw someone else to wave and say hi to. I smiled at both of them but after I passed the second I was a little shaky and I tried to get up onto the sidewalk to turn into a street or something and the side of my wheel got caught on the curb and my bike stopped and I didn’t. I almost hit my head on a wall, which was pretty scary but I cut up my hands and my left arm pretty good? pretty bad. I had to bike home with blood dripping down the hand bars. And I ripped my pants. I looked like a wreck I’m sure.

How many missionaries are there in your mission? 
I think there are 210 missionaries? I'm not exactly sure. We lost 100 this summer so the mission is struggling to bring the number back up!
Tracting here is very different. Different than what I practiced for and different than I expected. I haven't knocked a single door that didn’t have an investigator, member, or someone like that on the other side. All we do is lessons and then sometimes (often) we do street contacts. People usually don’t listen to us but about 50% say they will check out mormon.org if we ask them. Most people here know who we are and what we do. We often get yelled at in the street, or stopped by people to pray with them for their families or things like that. But not too many return appointments. We teach about 1 lesson a day. I wish it were 5 times as much, but its tough. We bike soooo much, and go all over just to find people are no longer interested or not home when they said they would be. Oh well.
The ward is pretty small. I'd guess 100. But I'm not sure. It’s probs 100 active and then 400 inactive because that what the records would say. But since people come and go so frequently the missionaries are often called upon to find out if people still live there and are still interested.

The ward is all Spanish. The boundaries are the stake boundaries so there are 4 companionships in the ward. It’s kinda crazy. I haven’t, thankfully had to speak in church yet, or teach. We have 4 progressing investigators and a lot of people to contact so hopefully that goes up as we find more people interested and goes down as they progress and begin to make and keep covenants. Apparently it’s for every 100 1st lessons there are 13 2nd lessons. Just a fact someone told me.

Freak. Now I don’t know what to write. So much happens. We talk to so many interesting people and hear so many stories but I just don’t know where to start or what to say. One thing about our area, is everyone is drunk. It could be 11 am and people are just hammered. I'm not sure if they are still drunk from the night before but they are definitely drunk. It makes me sad. Just because they seem sad. So many people we talk to are crying and telling us these horrible stories and they just reek of alcohol. It's too bad. But it makes me feel good that we can give them some comfort. One specific story about something like this was Miguel. He stopped us in the street crying because of the things he had done in his past. He practically confessed his life to us. He was crying because he thought he was going to hell and he didn’t want to be alive anymore but he didn’t want to die and suffer then too. It was sweet to be able to truthfully tell him what he needed and wanted to hear. That because of Jesus Christ his pain is only temporary and there is hope for salvation for all of us. To share the power of the atonement for someone who needed it so badly was amazing. We prayed with him and by the time we left his tears were not for his pain but I think they were tears of joy. As we left I think he might have praised us more than he praised Jesus.  

Las Vegas Temple
The Vegas temple is sick. It's huge and so beautiful. The windows are also under the sun so when you are in it everything is lit up and is so pretty.
Las Vegas Temple
To sum up this week we biked all over the area trying to meet the people we had contact or try to find our referrals. Our agendas are filled with like the same 20 names everyday. Most days we get a lesson in with someone. But we definitely spend the most time biking and the next most time studying and the next most time teaching. I wish it were switched around a little bit.
Elder Bishop wants me to include that he made like a million pounds of cookies this past week.

Thank you this week to Grandma and the Dargers. You guys rock. I have so many of you that I need to write letters back to. I can’t promise them any time soon, but I haven’t forgotten about you all.
I love you all!

In the words of someone sometime, maybe only me -- life doesn’t get us down, but the way we think about it can.
-Sam
Braiiiiiiiinnnnnsssss.... I mean Baaaaaappptisssssmmssss

Monday, September 17, 2012

VEGAS BABY!

It's crazy that I am actually here. Last week at this time I was preparing myself for another week in the MTC and now I'm doing grocery shopping and cleaning my apartment so I can focus more during the week. What a crazy life.

Tuesday after lunchtime I got a note that I needed to go to the travel office that day to talk to Alison. I didn't think too much of it because Alison was the name of one of the people in the Health Clinic that I frequently had to talk to. So after class on Tuesday I went down to see what they needed me to do, and a totally different Alison asked me if I knew that I was leaving tomorrow. I think I may have squealed. Actually I am almost positive I did. Don’t get me wrong, I love/d the MTC, but hearing that I would finally be getting out of there was what really made me so excited. I had almost steeled myself to hear that I wouldn't be leaving for a long time but lo and behold that wasn't the plan. Back to the story, so she handed me my travel plans and I had like 12 hours to be packed and waiting at the travel office, the next morning at 5 am. The reason I had such short notice -- I got cleared on Monday afternoon after my regular visits with Dr. Brown. After that, he called the district president to get it all set up for me to leave. But it was his first week and he forgot to send the memo to anyone that I was set up to leave on Wednesday. Elder Ruiz [Elder from Mexico that Sam met his first week in the MTC who called him “Elder Vegas”] got cleared earlier that day as well, and he wasn’t sure what his plan was, so just by chance he checked in at the travel office to see if they knew when he was leaving. They searched around a bit and found his travel information and let him know that he was leaving on Wednesday. Then, and I am forever thankful, he asked about me. They said they didn’t have any information about Elder Anderson, so he asked when I was leaving. They searched it up a little bit and then found that I, in fact, was leaving the same day but hadn’t been forwarded or something yet. So then they sent me that note. Alison at the desk said that Elder Ruiz was very cute about it all, he wanted to be sure that we were going on the same flight and everything like that. Bless his soul. I then spent the next few hours packing and buying scripture cases and the missionary reference library. I got to go to the devotional, which was a cool one, and then I went to my classroom got my junk, took a few pictures and went to the residence. The next morning, I woke up and carried my two exactly 50-pound bags and my exactly 40-pound carry-on to the travel office to meet up with Elder Ruiz. We took the hour-long bus ride to the Salt Lake Airport and then made our way to our gate. We had to stop and talk to a lot of people because missionaries are a big deal, I guess. We got on the plane and took a nice 90-minute ride to Vegas. When we got out of the plane and into the Vegas airport, the first thing we saw was a line of slot machines, and Elder Ruiz says to me, "we have a lot of work to do." We both laughed and walked towards the baggage claim. He was constantly telling me how fascinated he was by all the technology because in Mexico they don’t have a lot of the stuff we have here and in the MTC there isn’t much more than tvs and computers. When we got down to the baggage claim, the severity of Las Vegas hit me with all the advertisements. It only took us a few moments to find the group that was waiting to pick us up. Not too many people in dark suits there. We met the AP's [assistants to the mission president] and a missionary couple, Elder and Sister Royal. They were all pretty awesome. Elder Rogers gave us both the nice tip to look down and he would lead the way. Thinking back, that was a great suggestion because distractions were everywhere. 

I just remembered about the MTC. I am 90% sure that Elder Ruiz would not have been able to get through the airport if I had not been there to translate for him. It was his first time on an airplane and he had no idea where to go and his English doesn’t include too many of the airport type words. He had a bunch of things from his surgery that he forgot to announce before baggage claim that I didn’t know about. They were asking him to surrender his bag but he could not understand what was happening. So I felt like I was meant to be there to help guide him though all that and to show him all the things he needed to do. I was quite surprised that no one filled him in on what was going to happen and how he needed to prepare. 

Annnyyyyway. Then after that, the APs and the couple took us to breakfast which of course was at a place that only served eggs. So I had a small headache for the rest of the day, but it was okay because it was so darn delicious. Chicken Enchilada omelet or something like that. Then after that, they took us to the mission home, which was part of the ward building, which I was not expecting but that was kinda cool, I guess. There, I watched 2 hours of car and bike safety [videos] and picked up my bike and filled out a bunch of paper work. Then I got to meet President Neider, which was really cool. I had been looking forward to meeting him for a very long time. We sat down in his office and just had a pretty normal conversation about the mission and football and Las Vegas and the MTC. He was way cooler than I ever expected. I didn’t get to meet Sister Neider because she was in a meeting. (Actually, they both were, but President had to leave to meet Elder Ruiz and me). Then I got all my sweet packages that had been waiting for me at the mission office.

Then the APs and I got into their van and they drove me out to the [Las Vegas] west mission, on accident. One of the Elders fell asleep, but not before putting in the wrong address into their GPS, so we drove for about an hour before he woke up and freaked out because "elders, we just went full apostate." So we turned around and drove back to our mission and then they drove me to my new home, Oasis Springs on East Bonanza between Pecos and Lamb. In case any of you wanted to see where I live. So we drove into our place and I got to meet Elders Bishop and Bennett my new companions. They, of course, are both awesome. We are what's called a three-pack. I guess that's mission terminology. MTC terminology is long gone. Elder Bishop was sick so while he slept I got to talk more with Elder Bennett, my trainer, and get all unpacked. Then after like 2 hours. I got to ride a bike for the first real time in my life and teach my first lesson in Spanish. By bike, I mean almost get killed a bunch of times because I can't bike straight and by teach a lesson I mean introduce myself, bear my testimony and sit quiet because true Hispanics speak so absurdly fast. And they slur. The sister's name was Juana and her husbands name was Juan. Guess what her 2 sons were named? Juan and Juan. I kid you not. The entire family was named Juan/a. It's stuff straight out of a stereotyping b-movie. But it’s true. Then we got picked up (thankfully) to go to dinner at the Bishop's house. Bishop Austin is the only Caucasian in the ward, but he speaks really good Spanish. I got to meet him and his wife and they served us chicken parmesan. It was delicious but not quite what I was expecting for my first day in the field. A pleasant surprise. Then we went around our area contacting people. I got pulled over by a police officer at about 8:30 because I didn’t have a light on my bike and it was dark. He just told me to get a light for my safety and told us to keep up the good work. I think he was probably a Mormon. While this was going on, Elder Bennett was contacting a woman on the sidewalk but as soon as the cop pulled up she practically ran off, it was pretty funny. So then we went home, planned, and I crashed. I left out a bunch of stuff.

The next morning, I woke up at 5:30 am to play dart wars at 6. It's like paintball but with blow darts. It was my first time playing (of course) so I was horrible. Two teams and everyone has blow darts and you try to shoot each other around and over obstacles. Last team standing wins. We played with the whole zone, so it was chaos but still really fun. I had a few welts from some of the more experienced missionaries. I got to meet the rest of the district and the zone and they are all pretty sweet. It turns out our district, sisters included, are all obsessed with the zombie apocalypse (obsessed being reasonably interested so as not to distract from the work). I showed them my sweet poster from mom and I was an instant celebrity. They have already planned their escape from Vegas, if that happens, all the way down to the theme music. It's a sick slow song that we listen to a lot that I always have stuck in my head. It was so nice to hear real music after so, so long. While we studied, Elder Bishop played the Spirited Away sound track, which was super cool. It was nice to have nice, calm, good music, to help me focus that wasn't a hymn. 
Food was crazy today (Thursday). The elder's didn’t have any when I arrived, so it was a good thing I lugged my food from the MTC here, because all I ate all week for breakfast and lunch were the granola bars Sidney sent me. They like saved my life. 

Thursday was my first 'real' day as a missionary. Three hours of study and then a day full of teaching and tracting [door-to-door contacting]. We had like three lessons and 17 contacts, which was almost double the standard of excellence, so that felt good for a first day. A quick note about our area. We don’t live inside our area, we live about 15 minutes away because it is not safe to live in anymore. The last missionaries that lived in the area saw a murder in their complex and then that night went to stay at their zone leader’s apartment, and it was a good thing too because the next day when they went to move out, there were 4 bullet holes in the door. Sketch. So that is my area. The ghetto of Las Vegas. Some of the places we went were really scary, but I always felt pretty safe. The neighborhood and most of the people we come in contact with know who we are and are pretty nice to us. I've gotten in the habit of waving and smiling at everyone I pass, which makes my day awesome to get so many smiles back. For dinner on Thursday, we went to a member’s house and had some traditional Guatemalan chicken soup with tortillas; it was sooo good. There were fresh jalapenos and it was incredible. They didn’t have any clean water (oh, another thing, the water in our apt isn’t safe to drink.... sketchhhhy) so I had to drink coke, which was fine, but I was planning on not drinking too much pop on the mission. Oh well. Then for dessert, she made some delish fruit cake. I had worn my back pack all day so when I took it off, I saw that I had massssive sweat stains from the backpack straps. It was so gross I was sooo embarrassed until I saw that no one cared. Our district leader told me I should wear them with pride. That's pretty much all of that day.

Friday was filled with biking. We went, what felt like, 500 miles and all across the country. It was really only like 15 but that was a lot more than I was and am used to. We taught a lesson to an investigator named Austin who is planning on getting baptized soon. He spoke Spanish and English which was nice because I was able to participate a lot more. I drew him a picture during the lesson and he asked for another one, so later today I'm going to draw him a sick choose the right dragon. He's gonna flip. Then, after a lot more biking we went to the ward activity to eat dinner and meet investigators and the ward. The food was good and the horchata [almond milk] was amazing. I also had to sing my first musical number in Spanish on Friday. We sang “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” in Spanish in front of the whole ward. I was not prepared at all, but the members loved it so I did too. After that, there was no real reason for us to be there, so we left and contacted a bit more before going back home. Apparently, ward activities (the Montebello Ward, my ward) usually go from like 7 - midnight.... it’s a different world over here.

Saturday, we got up and did service for a few hours. We were painting for an elderly couple that couldn’t do it themselves. It was actually super heartbreaking. They both were smokers a long time ago so they couldn’t even talk without getting winded. 'JT,' the husband, had to have oxygen all the time and he was really grumpy about that. I got a chance to talk to both of them and they told me their story. It was nice to hear them talk and be there to listen because it was clear they didn’t have many people to share with. Then went to a baptism, which was cool, because I got to translate the program into English for the elders and visitors that didn’t speak Spanish. BOUSE [to be the best, to “sick wit it” according to urbandictionary.com]. Then, we went out to teach some more. We have an investigator Marcos who is really cool. We met him Thursday and taught him Friday as well. He was cool and invited us to play volleyball with him in the mornings. I hope we get a chance, because I would love to play some vball. For dinner, I about died. We went to another member’s house and she cooked enchiladas from El Salvador and they were incredible. Tender chicken with a homemade green sauce and some homemade cream. They were incredible. Then for dessert they served us cheese and jam, which was a little odd but still pretty good.

Yesterday was Sunday and church, and it felt good to be in the real church world, not with just missionaries. It feels good to be in the real world in general actually. Seeing people that look think and act differently is quite refreshing. 

I want to write more so bad but there is too much to say and not nearly enough time.
I'm about to finish the Book of Mormon for the 2nd time out here, which will be cool. It's a good book. You should read it sometime. Life is crazy different in Las Vegas and not just because I’m a missionary. 

That's all I really have time for. I'll write more next week.
Hope everything is going well.
I love you all

Sam

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Arrival of Elder Anderson!

We got an email from the mission office that Elder Anderson has arrived in Las Vegas!  We look forward to getting his first letter from the field. Thanks again for your concern, love, support, and prayers for Sam.
- the Andersons

P.S. The mission office asks that when you send him letters that they are addressed to Elder Samuel B. Anderson or otherwise some other Elder Anderson may get them. Thanks 

Monday, September 10, 2012

LAS VEGAS ON SEPTEMBER 12th!

We just got a call from President Lantz who got a call from the MTC saying that Sam is scheduled to leave for Las Vegas on WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 12th!  Last chance for sending a free dearelder is  tomorrow (Tuesday) before 2:00 EST/12:00 MST.  After that, you can continue to correspond with him through dearelder but it will be the cost of a stamp.  It should be directed to the Nevada LAS VEGAS mission not the MTC or Las Vegas West.  (There are two Las Vegas missions). You can always use snail mail to the address listed on the left.  
Thanks for your love and support of Elder Sam.
- the Andersons

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Letter!

Hello everyone!
Its Friday, Friday, got a write letters on Friday...
I think P-day is the most stressful day of the week. It's not like horrible or anything, but I just have sooo much to do and never enough time. Like letter writing. Today, I sat down and counted how many letters I needed to write. 14. And I couldn't get to all of them. Not even close.

It's interesting how everything is so different now. When I was in El Trifecto I thought that MTC life was all the same and pretty boring. I thought that not much could change. I was totes wrong. I live a completely different life now. Everything is so different. It's so interesting how different people are. No duh, right? But seriously I had never really thought about it before but everyone has suchhhhh different routines. Elder Harvey's and mine were about identical, but I think that was just because I got lucky with such a bro companion.

I'm still doing my happy thang. Being happy all the time. Its 95% real and 5% fake it til you make it and I'm darn proud to say that. But it has been helped so much by what people have been saying to me. Last night Hermana Ayala (my new teacher) pulled me out into another classroom and was crying as she thanked me for all my hard work with Elder Walker. She said he has grown so much in the last week and a half. I felt like I was walking on the moon. I knew that I could notice a difference but I didn't know if anyone else did. I'd go through another colonoscopy to have someone thank me like that again. It rocked. Being here so long has given me a really cool chance to meet a lot of cool people. I've had a half an hour meeting with President Hacking (2nd counselor in the MTC presidency). I've met with all 3 district presidents and I've gotten to know soooo many more teachers. I don't know where I was going with that story but I'll continue with what I was talking about before. Hermana Ayala, after she thanked me, she told me that I could teach grammar to the class if I wanted to. That'd rock but I really don't feel qualified. I've only been able to help Elder Walker so much because we get a lot of 1on1 time, but the fact that she even suggested that, genuinely might I add, made me feel really good too.

I'm trying to think of a funny story to share so it doesn't sound like I'm always bragging....
Elder Harvey wrote me a nice email which made me really happy. He's a cool cat.
Ughh... this might be a short letter this week! Not too much super exciting has been happening. Hmm, hmm, hmm. I found some cool new sunglasses while doing service. Someone left them in the room and they were up for grabs, so I got some sick 'secret agent' shades.

Elder Walker wants everyone to know that he "bore a sweet-a** testimony" all in Spanish. His words, not mine I promise. He really did though. He likes to ask the Sister Missionaries to bear? bare? idk which... he asks them to behr their testimonies to him in their languages. We have heard Portuguese, Spanish, Japanese, French, Russian and one other language I can't remember. But, today, one sister asked him back to bear his. He was a little scared at first and then she said that she'd rather hear mine but I didn't let him get away that easy. I ended up getting him to do it and he did it wonderfully. He was all smiles afterwards. I was too. Good times.

I've been taking a lot of notes about how I have been growing as a person. I feel like a nut job saying I've grown in just 2 months but I feel like its true. I'm slowly weeding out all the dumb things I do. It's a constant struggle ‘cause there are so many. Like, for example, patience. I need to be more patient. I think it's the drugs, mostly, but I've been catching myself almost snapping at people. Even though I am doing my best to be happy I still get irritable in my head and it's a battle to keep that irrational anger inside. Part of it I think is the drugs. I don't like them very much. I don't like them at all really.

Anywayyyyyyy,
Shout out to my brother and sister starting up Senior Year and Freshman Year. Tear it up, you two. Make your brother proud. You both are in for great times of learning and growth, please take them more seriously than I did, but also make sure you have more fun than I did. The first will be easy, the second, I don't know.

My hair is growing back.

I have a new found soft spot for Mormon messages. Hey don't judge me.
I've watched a second district leave that I watched come into the MTC. That's been a weird sensation. I feel like everyone who has come in after me is younger than me, even though like half are older than me by many months. It's so strange to see them all ship out. I have this, very unwarranted, feeling that none of them are ready yet. I know they are and I've been lucky enough to get really close to a lot of them and make some great friends and acquaintances but it's still so strange to watch them go off to all these different places. Missionary life man, it's crazy.

That's about it. Sorry for not very exciting letters. Next time maybe.
But for those of you who stuck around I have another great scripture to share that sums up these last 3 weeks perfectly. Jeremiah 4:19. The first line specifically.
That's all for now folks.
Adios
Ojala que nadie se mata.
Sam.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

LAS VEGAS ON SEPTEMBER 19th!!!

President Lantz called our home today to let us know that Sam is scheduled to leave for Las Vegas on September 19th.  Thanks for all your letters, calls, and prayers for Sam at this time.
-the Andersons

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Letter Number fun times


Hello world!
This might win the prize for being the longest week of my entire life. I feel like it's been 9 weeks since I last wrote. What a crazy, crazy world. I have so, so much to talk about and of course, so, so little time. So I will do my best! Sunday was a good day. I was packing and getting all my stuff ready to leave. I went to both of the Devotionals and they were both pretty good. It felt so weird that I was getting ready to leave and all that stuff. Monday morning at 5am, Elder Harvey and I dropped off Elder Noyes at the travel office. It was so weird to say goodbye because we have been practically attached at the hip for the last 9 weeks so it was hard to see him go. He was tearing up a lot, which I could understand. Then Tuesday we dropped off Hermana Nilsen, which was so weird too. I probably will never see her again, which isn't heartbreaking or anything close to that, it's just odd to think about. I feel like our whole district had grown up together, and in many ways we have.

Monday was a weird day. Elder Harvey and I had so much free time because we both don’t like to sit around and wait so I think we were showered and out of the room by 6:45, done with breakfast and studying by 7:00. It was actually a super productive day because we didn’t have to wait in the hallway or the residence or things like that for Elder Noyes to get out of the bathroom.

Monday. Monday Monday Monday. It seems like years ago that I found out that I have to stay here for longer but it wasn’t. It was like 6 days. Anyway. Monday I was crushed to find that out so it was really hard to be cheerful. But somehow I did. This has been a horrible week for so many reasons but Monday when I found out what the week would be like, I decided to be cheerful the whole time. And it was and has been surprisingly helpful. This has almost been the happiest week I’ve had in the MTC, because that's what I've made it. I keep proving to myself that I can do hard things. If this keeps up someone might need to give me a good ole ego check. But seriously, I’ve been impressing myself with my commitment to happiness.

That’s a tip. Decide you are going to always be happy, and then do it. Everyone always says they want to work on being happier, or more cheerful. My experience is that it is impossible unless you just do it. Don’t try to be happier. Be happy. It's hard, but it works. I hope this kind of makes sense I don’t have time to go back and read.
So, Wednesday was like a crazy day. I stopped eating after Tuesday’s lunch, so I woke up on Wednesday at 5 to help Elder Harvey get ready to pack and my stomach was growling like crazzzzy. It was a good thing my hunger was distracting me because I might have cried. Legit. I miss Elder Harvey a lot. We got so close I feel like I’ve known him for forever. What a bro. But I started a new life at 6 when he got on the bus. A new life in district K.

I'll give you the run down of everyone in the district.
Elder Anderson (in my head I call him junior) - 22 years old and a convert of 3 years to the church. He has a vast knowledge of Spanish and of the random (irrelevant) gospel facts. He is pretty tall and blinks a lot and speaks very high when praying or talking in Spanish. He gets flustered and annoyed very easily. District Leader
Elder Larson (no name could properly describe him) - 19 years of age with the face and body (and hair/lack there of) of a 40 year old man ... but the mind of a 14 year old. Elder Larson is a really funny guy, he always says the goofiest stuff that makes me laugh so hard and he has these big eyes that open up super wide when he is telling a joke. E Larson loves to fart. Like, I think he would probably list it as a pastime or something. He takes pleasure in the act of flatulating and the aroma as well—its a little disturbing. And he has no shame. He farts no matter where he is, and no matter who is around. Whether the teacher is in the middle of a lesson or whether the Hermanas are sitting right behind him. He just lets them out.

Sister Hartjen - 22 years old. I don’t know too much about her. She sits on the opposite side of the class from me. She likes to talk. She and Elder Anderson love to get in heated debates about things that don’t really matter very much...

Sister Mabe - 23 years old. Zone Coordinating Sister. She taught middle school Spanish before coming on the mission but is in an intermediate class. I'm not sure if I think that is super awesome and she is so lucky or it is weird that the state of Iowa allowed her to teach. I think it's probably both. She's super nice. Too nice. I think today she's asked me 8 times how my stomach feels. I can only say "super bien, gracias, como esta suyo?" so many times a day.

Elder Hyde - 19 years old and a northern Utah boy all the way. He loves guns and B.O.B. He has a girlfriend that is serving a mission right now too and he calls her Hermana Novia which is a little creepy. Elder Hyde is a short stocky little kid who likes to make jokes all the time and is pretty touchy feely, which is okay except we live in the same room and I don’t like to be touched. So it's not okay at all. But he’s a cool guy.

Elder Franks - 19 years old and the biggest in the district. He was a lacrosse player from Virginia and knows some awesome scripture references. A great one is Jeremiah 24:2. Read it when you need a pick me up.

Elder Yockey (rhymes with hockey) - 19 years old and a convert for a year and 2 months. He is going to Las Vegas as well and we sit next to each other in class. He's a boss. I like him a lot. He's pretty quiet, but super funny and works his butt off to be the best missionary he can. Although he does have a short fuse. Great guy.

Elder Rogers - Elder Rogers is the biggest goober in the MTC. He makes me laugh all the time. He is also a Saturday smack down prodigy, he's been studying his butt off in hopes to beat me one day. We shall see if that happens. He also organized a tie exchange, which I took part in and snagged an awesome peacock tie. I'm wearing it right now and looking supah fly. Stuntin some fresh feathers.

Last and certainly not least my companion Neil Caffrey. Just joking, his name is Bryce Larson. No, but his name is Elder Matthew Bomer. Get the point? Elder Walker looks exactly like Matt Bomer. It's crazy. Both studly looking suave men. Although, Elder Walker might give Neil a run for his money in the clothing department, he dresses super nice. I really like Elder Walker a lot. We have gotten pretty close and don’t have any problems. He's struggling a lot with his Spanish because he was being stifled before in a trio with Elders Hyde and Franks, but now he has the freedom to talk and grow and in just a few short days he has come so far. I'm not to blame, but I do know it is because he has had the opportunity to grow now that he's in a normal companionship (not that I’m at all normal). Elder Walker is from Salt Lake and is 22 years old. He is lactose intolerant and has a crush on one of the language teachers. But he's a boss. He is pretty sassy too. And quick and sharp with the comebacks. I like him a lot.

So you all want to hear about the procedure right?
Here's what went up.
Just kidding down.
Tuesday after lunch, I stopped eating. But I was still drinking water. Wednesday morning I was drinking and doing class and all that fun stuff until 3 when I had to drink 32oz of miralax and then take 2 laxative pills. I had to stay in the residence for the rest of the night. Then at 8 I got to take 2 more pills and drink 32 more ozs. It was an interesting night. So I got up Thursday morning, and I was super nauseous and dizzy so I thought I'd drink a glass of water to rehydrate myself (this was at about 7:00). When I got to the hospital for the procedure at 10, they asked me if I drank anything that day and I (sadly) told the truth and they told me I couldn’t have it done, because it was too dangerous. So I had to come back tomorrow. Bummer right? I couldn’t eat for another day... and I had to take more laxatives. So Thursday night, instead of eating I got to drink more laxatives! Wahoo! It was delicious! Then Friday morning, I went back for the procedure and hadn’t drunk anything since midnight like they asked. When they tried to put an IV in, my veins collapsed 3 times because I was so dehydrated. After 3 tries, I was super lightheaded so they took me a to a dark room to lie down, and then in 20 minutes they tried again, but this time they did it right under my left thumb and apparently that vein was big and full enough to work. Then they gave me some medicine and I passed out. I woke up in a different room in a different position and super confused.  By this time I hadn’t eaten in 74 hours and I was ravenous. They gave me some saltines at the hospital and they were delicious. Never had crackers tasted so good. If any of you want to reapprecaite the simple foods in life, fast for 3 days. It's an incredible experience to eat after that.
I wanted to respond to all your letters but I couldn’t. Things have been too crazy. And now my time is up so I have to get off the computer.
I have a stack of letters to respond to so don’t worry if you haven’t gotten one recently from me. I haven’t forgotten you.

Oh! and yesterday I helped one of my new teachers understand the future subjunctive. Like legit she didn’t understand a scripture because it had future subjunctive and I taught it to her and afterwards she understood and then taught her friend. I think I’ve started a movement or something.

Anyway, I will write you all soon. I've got so much else to say.
Anyway, I love and miss you all.
Especially, the ones who read this
May the future subjunctive be with you.
Sam