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Monday, October 29, 2012

So much to say and so little time


Hey so since I got on the computer last, I have not enough time to say all the stuff that happened. Sorry if my letters aren’t enough detail, I just don’t have much time. 
Aight. Sorry to everyone that has written me that I haven’t had time to respond to! You are all in my thoughts and I will get to y’all soon; I promise!
This week I have been studying the Pauline epistles. There is some good stuff in there. 

Last Monday was an interesting day. Elder Bennett wanted to go shopping at some far away mall so I was tagging along with Campbell and Sherwood for the day. We got special permission from president to watch the last debate, which was cool. Then I voted! I drew my fancy line on my absentee ballot and put it in the mailbox. I feel like a contributing citizen for one of the first times in my life. It was an interesting experience --the voting and the debate. The few times in the past that I have watched has been to get extra credit and all I have gotten out of it has been a new sense of things that go on in the world. This time, I was taking notes and all that so I could choose who I thought would be the best leader for our country for the next 4 years. Who knows if I chose right or not. It was interesting to listen and watch how the candidates treated each other with the whole world watching. It may or may not have affected my decision. But I have to say that by far my favorite line for many reasons was "we also have fewer horses and bayonets." Then, after the debate I liked listening to the discussion of the missionaries and the bishop whose house we were at.

Ohhhh Tuesday. Today Elder Bennett wasn't feeling well so we pretty much only went to dinner. But dinner was a crazy experience, crazy fun and weird. It was with the S's. He is from Germany and she is from Mexico. They met and married in Germany and then moved to Dominican Republic where he opened up his own restaurant. He knows how to cook. We ate Italian sausage pasta and it was soooo good. I think it was (other than pizza haha) the most non-hispanic thing I've eaten in a while. He is not a member and she has been one for her whole life so there was quite the colorful conversation going on. Talk began of politics with brother S stating that any Mormon who didn’t vote for Romney was a traitor to their kind and should be harshly punished. Then she asked him what about her, because she said she would never vote for Romney and that she knew that Obama would get elected. They started fighting (maybe 40% joking) and yelling at each other. It was awkward at first and then it was funny as we realized that they weren’t actually going to kill each other. Finally, after some time, she just told him she didn’t care what he said because she wasn’t listening anymore. Then they both told us a bunch of funny stories and then he was telling us about how things are in Germany and didn’t spare the sisters any details at all. That was kind of awkward hahaha. He speaks German, Spanish, English, Italian, Chinese, and something else I forgot. He's a really cool guy. I don’t know if I've laughed that much in a long time. Sister S used to look like Audrey Hepburn and he used to look like a movie star too so their wedding photo looks like a movie poster which was kind of weird to find out that it was them and they look totally different now that they are older. He offered us some schnapps type stuff to wash down dinner. We of course said “no” but he cracked it open anyway and it was like essence of alcohol. It was a funny dinner and I would like to go back there again to try what other cool stuff he can cook and to hear more stories about their exciting lives. After dinner, we went home so then I just studied some more before I went to bed.

Wednesday was pretty much the same kind of deal. We didn’t get out before dinner. Dinner was good though. We had pizza but the sister made me a plate of mole which was delicious. Even the rice was exquisite. After dinner, we visited Carlos and his mother Beatriz. We had a short lesson with them about faith and the Book of Mormon. Of course they said that they'd read and come to church because they needed it, but they never did. Carlos got baptized in January but was never very active and so pretty much fell away. When he got baptized his mom Beatriz was not ready but she still wanted to. After those missionaries left, they stopped coming to church and hadn’t had lessons for a long time. They both are great people and want to get closer to God. Carlos is 18ish and his Mom, well mom age. The bishop wants Carlos to serve a mission and it’d be really good for him so we are trying to help him find that desire in himself. After that lesson we went to teach Antonia. I guess I haven’t talked about her too much so here is a little bio on her. She is a single mother with 4 kids: an18 year old daughter who lives elsewhere with her boyfriend; 2 sons who are 14 and 15 and neither of them go to school at all which is really hard for he because one of the sons is going to get sent away to go to military school or something, his trial is next month. They are both cool?(not the right word) young boys but are a little confused I guess. They probably should be in school. Her daughter is in kindergarten and is always present at the lessons trying to be the center of attention by dancing or other stuff. We used to teach Antonia with Joel and Ramiro but Joel moved to Oregon and Ramiro got a little bit disenchanted I guess you could say. Ramiro still comes to about half the lessons but he's not quite as interested as he used to be. He is a great guy but doesn’t believe in the institution of church. He thinks that true disciples of Christ don’t need to spend time worshiping, they will just spend all their time serving. He has a lot of interesting things to say and interesting points to think about but Elder Bennett doesn’t like to talk to about the things he says. Anyway, he's doing his best to be the best person he can be but just in a different way. Sometimes he tries to teach us which is interesting as well. So he is sometimes in the lessons but not on his way to get dunked or anything any time soon. Antonia has really strong faith. We taught tithing the other day and she said. If I had money, I would pay. And I know she would because she is literally broke. No money to her name. But I’ve seen her sharing her welfare food, which warms my heart. We finished all the lessons last night and she is going to have a baptismal interview tomorrow. It’s exciting. We invited her sons to come to her baptism and they said they would which would be so cool if they do. She is such a sweet woman and wants to set an example for her children. That is what she always talks about. And she has always wanted to go to the temple since she saw it so that was another cool thing. There haven’t been any struggles with her. Just helping her to read more of the scriptures. She doesn’t have a problem with anything. All the commandments we’ve taught her and that stuff she says she understands and stuff. She doesn’t have a husband and was telling us the other day that she knows that if she would have had one her kids would be better off because it is hard to raise 3 teenagers and a young girl by herself. But I personally think she's doing the best job she can. I really like her a lot. She is always doing her best to help out and is always happy to see us. I am excited for her baptism on Saturday. 

Dad, you asked me about my Spanish in teaching. When I am teaching I have no problems saying all the things I want to. And when talking about gospel subjects I usually can understand everything a person is saying. Where my Spanish lacks is in understanding just regular conversation and in picking things up when people talk really fast. Those are the things I have been working on a lot. But it's hard because I can usually speak English for most of the day. On this note, its surprising the number of Hispanic people that live around here. I'd love to see a statistic of the ratio of Americans to immigrants. And lots of them don’t speak English at all which is weird but understandable because they literally don’t need to. 

Thursday was district meeting, which was cool, and then we went to Jack in the Box for a lunch with the sisters and the zone leaders. Then, I went on exchanges with (zone leader) Elder Taetakua. It was crazy. I was not only in an English area but I was driving!!!!!! It was scary for a little bit and then I realized that it wasn’t scary at all hahahaa. It was a totally new experience though --to do missionary work from a car. Things were totally different because E’T and I spent the whole day visiting people and teaching lessons, which was awesome. They don’t have too much 'work' so we did 4 member visits, which was awesome. It was cool to meet new people and hear their stories and share a gospel message and be able to have a deeper more faith strengthening discussion. I want to briefly talk about 4 people I met. The first was Brother and Sister Stanley they have been married for 65 years! They got married at 18 and are still doing really well for how old they are. They told us their whole story from the time they "started going steady" to the time when he said "are you going to marry me or what?" it was really cute. They talked a lot about how different times were back then. They certainly were. Then we met Homeyra who is one of the people they are teaching. We found out that she is waiting to go back to prison, which was a huge surprise to both of us. She didn’t tell the ZLs that before so they don’t know if she can get baptized. She has 3 kids and babysits 8 more during the day. Her prison story is a long one but it can be summed up as she was partying in Mexico and someone drugged her and then hid drugs in her car (this is what she claims and of course I am not one to judge but I believe her) and when she was trying to cross the border the next day the random search found that and the plea of innocence was kind of null and void after they did a drug test. It’s not for me to judge but that's what she said. If that's true, her story is such a teaching point. She was in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong people doing the wrong things and now she is in huge trouble for drug trafficking and might be away from her 3 young kids for a very, very long time. I felt so horrible hearing her story. We have commandments to protect us. To all who read this, know that sometimes things happen that we could never imagine and if we aren't careful we, and the people we love, can get badly hurt. It was sad to hear her talk about the things she was having to do now because of a dumb decision she had made. I hope and pray that something works out so that she can stay with her kids. The last person I met was the ZL's [zone leaders] ward mission leader. He is a cool guy. He is in his early 30s and has been a member for 14 months. And he got married in the temple exactly 1 year after his baptism. His story is such an inspiring one. He grew up in Vegas in a very broken home and had to fend for himself in many cases and as he described it was in more fights than he has movies (and he has sooooo many movies --like so many) and his dad had always taught him to fight. The rule of the house was, I don’t care what happens or who started it, if you don’t win you're going to get beat when you get home. So he had some pretty violent fights, he said if he had to take a rock and beat someone with it, he would because his dad was a vicious drunk. So when he was 18, he went to prison for 7 years. What was really interesting is how much he has changed his life around. He is now working in some legal field (idk how but its tight that he gets to) and he says from someone who has spent their whole life in and out of the system he knows how messed up it is. He says that in a lot of cases it does more damage than it heals which makes me sad. But its cool that now he's getting to use his experiences to help others have better ones. But he also was telling us how it’s hard to control 25 years of upbringing sometimes. He says there are days when he still wants to just beat the crap out of some people. He's a great man who really has seen how the church can change lives and his testimony and his missionary spirit is inspiring. Thursday was an awesome day. I love exchanges so much.

Friday was a good day, as they all are. The morning we did a little bit of studying and then E’T and I went to visit some less active families in the ward which was cool. I love meeting new people and talking to them, especially when I know that I am helping them. And I don’t say that in a cocky way or anything I know that my visits often help people. It made me happy. With one family, we had a prayer and it was so sweet to see the faith of the whole family as we kneeled on their rug that morning. But after that we went back to my area to exchange back. Friday, we tried to have a lesson with a woman named Alicia but she wasn’t there. She is an interesting person. She sought us out because she wanted something more in her life. When we went to meet her, we had a lesson on the street because she didn’t want us to go into her house, which it turns out is not a house but a wooden shack on the back of someone else property. She and her 3 kids live there. Then because Antonia was going to a Halloween party, we decided to go as well which turned out pretty good. We got tot talk a lot with her kids, and then as well introduce her to a lot of the members. Then cops showed up. During the party a cop car drove up with its lights and everything and like a few people ran (which made me laugh). We talked to him and he told us someone had called 911 and then he turned out to be Mormon so we talked to him for like 20 minutes. He told us a lot of cool stories and a lot of messed up stories from his mission to the Netherlands and from his days a police officer in the Las Vegas ghetto. It was cool to talk to him. 

(I’ve only got a few more minutes)
Saturday was cool. We did service for the first time since that time I painted. We helped Brother Kelly move. If someone reminds me, I will talk more about him next week cause I don’t have time now. But he is like my idol. He is such a stud. He is literally dying of cancer (he’s got like 3 months left) but he is still an amazing support to us and still the best husband around. Remind me next week and I’ll write for an hour just about him and his story. We helped him and then E Bennett was sick so we just went to dinner, which was one of the youth in the ward opening his mission call to Spain!! I'll write more about Carlos next week too. He's a great guy and will be a great missionary to the Spanish people. I've been on splits with him a few times and he is a hard worker and always has a great big smile on his face. 
Elder Anderson celebrating with Carlos when he opened his mission call to Spain
Sunday was just a pretty normal Sunday. We are preparing to sing at the baptism on Saturday so I sang and played the piano a lot. I wish I could sing and I wish I could play the piano better. I'm going to force Elder Mayo to teach me to be as good as he is when I get home. 

Okay that's all and its time to go! I had way more time than I thought today.
sea lo que fuere!
To everyone at home, don’t procrastinate it's not worth it.
Thank me later for that little tip
I love you all
Sam

Monday, October 22, 2012

October 22, 2012

My new suit and me being super happy to have it. 
Note: I'm in Elder Campbell’s and Sherwood’s apartment
Thank you to everyone for the cool stuff I got today! I got a new suit!!!!! It fits well and I don’t feel quite so fat :) :) :). I also got those cool ties and all that stuff, thank you so much for all that, it made my day. Thank you also to the Krandall's for the package of goodies and the sweet letter I also got!
Don’t judge on the smile or double chin.
So I don’t know what to write. ... Maybe email me some things that you want me to talk about because I am kind of lost, hahaha, there is just so much to talk about and so little to say at the same time, but I’ll do my best to give you all something interesting to read.

First a thing I don’t like about Vegas (and I love Vegas so much): is the smell. It smells horrendous here. Not everywhere but a lot of places just smell like weed or beer and most places smell like both. And everyone is drunk or high. It's super sad. All these people. I can’t even explain it. I was talking to a guy about Christ one day, and he after a while said that he couldn't talk to me anymore because he didn't feel comfortable because he was drinking around me and talking about Jesus. He told me to come back another day when he was fully sober and not drinking. I plan on doing that. It's interesting that not drinking is a commandment that only LDS [Latter-day Saint] people follow but he, even while drinking, recognized the—idk the word, “irony”—of talking about the Savior while drinking a 40. 

I love working. No offense, but I'd trade my p-days in for another day of missionary work. I don’t think I'd be able to find a companion who would join me though... oh well. Maybe in the next life.

Hmm. This week has been an interesting one, as they all are. I had some odd and some would say 'bad experiences' that I've learned some things from. One is about the people we met going up Bonanza hill on Tuesday. Sorry but I don’t feel comfortable writing about this. To anyone who remembers, ask me when I get back and I'll tell you. 

That reminds me! Last week, after emails, we went to Home Depot to look for a screw. I found one that fit the part and bought it and a socket wrench set to fix my bike. I brought my seat with me but.... it didn't work. The head of the screw was too small. I think that was the moment I was most frustrated. SO frustrated that now I don’t even ride with a seat post anymore. It's kind of funny. It makes people laugh so that makes me happy. My frustration ended in like 10 seconds, so don’t anyone get worried or something. I'm always happy here! It’s so easy. But then we had to go up the hill (and 4 miles to get to it) with all my proselyting materials, a socket wrench set, and my bike seat and the parts to it, it was heavy. That was fun, but a little bit of a challenge. Going up hills would be easier with a seat. I promise I'm not complaining. I like the challenge :). 

I had exchanges with Elder Campbell [switching companions for the day] last week and that was cool. He's a great Elder and we bonded over Macklemore [a Seattle-based indie musician], Dyme Def [a Seattle-based hip hop trio], and the like. I was so happy, and he's from Washington, so he has the real connection. 

While contacting people we met a young guy named Sergio who we were talking to when out of the blue he packs a bowl right in front of us. He offered us a hit and I, (Elder Campbell swears I almost accepted) graciously declined. It was kinda funny. After that, we got out of there pretty fast. He was a nice guy, but we didn't need to stick around while he was getting high. 

Elder Bennett was kinda sick this week again so we didn't work a lot. But when we did, it was great. Antonia is going to be baptized next Saturday and we (including her of course) are all excited. It’s cool that she's so excited.

The temple here is huge and so beautiful. But what makes it really cool, is that it's a little bit up the mountain and the road it is on it’s straight so from almost anywhere in the valley on the road looking up you can see it or up by the strip at night there is a lighted path right to it. It’s impossible to describe how magnificent it looks. Kind of like the sunsets out here, they are out of this world. I couldn't draw or describe them and pictures don’t do them justice. 

So a bunch of people who move to the valley see the temple and don’t know what it is but want to go there. I've talked to 3 and Antonia is one of them. Saturday night we had a lesson with her and were teaching what goes on in the temple and about it and the spirit was so strong as she told us that ever since she saw it she has wanted to go there. She hasn't known what it was or how or when she would, but she knew that she would. It was cool to promise her that she was on the path to make it there with her family one day.

I've had passole like 3 times this week and its delicious. I guess it's the other staple (the first being rice beans and meat of course) so I'll be having it a lot more. 

My desk.  The office of divine inspiration.
Hmmmm what else. I've been listening to a lot of soundtrack of The Mission. That's a great one. I like it a lot thank you so much. 

I feel horrible because I don’t know what else to say... I don’t have too much to talk about this week. I wish I had more. I'm happy, healthy, and doing the Lord’s work. That's an interesting point. People treat us very differently. There are some that are friendly to us in the street. Some say things like keep up the good work or things of that nature. Some people mock us, saying we are (someone said this) like little dogs just following our masters and doing the same thing our parents have been doing and have told us to do. Some say things like, “Have fun sacrificing a goat!” or call us names or swear at us. Some people ignore us. Some people hide their faces from us or make weird symbols or hold up their crosses and call us devils. It's weird but interesting. In a day we get the whole spectrum of treatment. A lot of people think it's funny to stop us and ask us offensive questions or say mean things about our families or other members of the Church. It doesn’t hurt me at all, but it makes Elder Bennett really depressed and it gets Elder Campbell's "Irish blood pumpin’."  I always like thinking about what people think and why. What would make anyone say things like that to anyone? I have many answers, but it's something that you all (whoever reads this) can think about this week. I'm learning a lot, gospel stuff and other stuff. Life stuff. Lots of life lessons. 

I'm happy I'm here. It's harder for some people than it is for me, but there is no denying that this is hard. It's pretty unnatural and not what most people want to do with 2 years from the prime of their life but this is what I want to do with mine--helping other people full-time. 

Happy Halloween everyone I hope you all have a wonderful time. Eat some candy, but not too much and make sure everyone knows that you love them. Just like I love you all.
I hope you are all doing well.
Sam

Monday, October 15, 2012

October 15, 2012


Thank you to everyone that sent me packages! I got like 4 on Wednesday. I was supposed to get them Monday but I got them late I guess. Some were from September though, mail is slow here. Thank you all for the treats, pants, cds, and all the other cool stuff I’ve gotten this week. I loved getting it. About the mail thing, I don’t think I was clear enough. When mail arrives here, it sits in the Mission Office and then is distributed to the Zone Leaders. As you can all imagine, if it's not one of their packages or letters it doesn’t quite matter to them as much as the ones with their names on it. I'm not bashing anyone, or taking a shot at young adults, just making an observation. So sometimes I get mail on a Wednesday or a Tuesday, but it was the mail from before last Monday. So like today, I haven't got any mail today, I might get some tomorrow or Wednesday or next time I see the Zone Leaders. I hope that makes sense.
Anyway moving on!

I doubt any of you saw, or knew, but on Thursday there was an incredible rainstorm here. It was like 4 inches in 30 minutes. The streets were flooded and it was incredible. And Elder Bennett and I biked through it. We got wet. Really wet. We were coming out of a lesson with Antonia and Ramiro and it had gone a little over so it was about 9:15 when we got onto Eastern. As we turned onto Eastern, lightning struck so close it felt like I heard the thunder first. It was so bright it hurt my eyes. We decided we should probably get home as fast as we could. After about 10 seconds, it started to pour. And I don’t mean like it started to drizzle then picked up intensity, it went from 0 to 60 instantly. Like turning on the shower. On full cold. I was soaked through before I could even really think about what happened. Then we biked 2 miles, two full miles through rain that was so hard I couldn't see Elder Bennett if he got more than 10 yards in front of me. Before we even really got to Bonanza and Mojave, the water had flooded the streets and there was standing water on the sidewalk. By standing water I mean water that was so deep it was covering our tires and it was flowing. Fast. I'm pretty sure it's what they call a flash flood. And it was so cold. I was chilled to the bone and I felt like I was frostbitten all over. It was hard to move my legs, that's how cold it was. Brrrr! It was insane. And loud too. I would try to scream something to Elder Bennett but the words would practically be swept from my mouth. I was actually afraid for a while we weren't going to make it home. But we did, obviously. When we got in, I poured the water out of my backpack that my scriptures had been soaking in :(. Everything was wet. Pamphlets, pass along cards, planner, my handbook, scriptures, my clothes. When I had stripped down we had to turn up the heat because it was just so cold. He had brought a rain coat so he wasn't quite as cold as I was.

That was the crowning event of this week I guess. Other than losing Elder Bishop. And Austin getting baptized. Scratch that, Austin's baptism is the crowning event of course! It was last Saturday. He was so excited that when Elder Bennett and I had finished our talks he literally ran into the font. It was cute. His mom didn't go, which made me sad, but it was a great day nonetheless. I'll include a picture of it, just so long as you don’t judge me for my hair, I was letting Shea (his sister) comb my hair and she kind of messed it up a little bit. And don’t judge me for my smile, or big suit or any of that.... ugh. Just don’t judge me, okay! I hate pictures...

Austin's baptism - Elder Sam, Elder C., Austin, Elder Bennett
This week for dinner I had rice and beans and meat and "water." Oh wait that's what we have every day! And it's not a bad thing. I've only had it like 25 times so I might want to take this all back later but I really don’t mind it. I like it actually. It's simple and delicious. And it's always a little different. When its Salvadorian it's different than when someone from Jalisco or someone from Guatemala makes it. It's always the same, but it's always a little bit different.

Hm. I will talk about biking more now. We bike almost everywhere. If it's in the zone we bike there, Church, meetings, dinners, other stuff, even if it's out of the area. It can be a long way sometimes. I still don’t have a seat yet, sorry, but we found a Lowes and got permission to leave the zone to see if I can find a screw there, so soon. But today is not that day. I don’t know in how many areas I will have to bike, because I have 'driving privileges' but I might be biking my whole mission. Only President Neider knows that. Whenever we have to go to the mission office, we get a ride thankfully because transfers would take 2 days if I had to carry my luggage with a bike, not to mention if I got transferred to Kingman, Arizona....  Luckily the area is pretty flat so the only hard things are carrying all the fresh fruits and vegetables I buy back to the apartment and biking up Bonanza Hill. There is no way to describe this unless you could see it, and even then it's hard to fathom what it is like biking up it. Every time, I think my legs grow and inch in diameter. Woot!

So we got 3 new missionaries in our district this week--Elder Johnson from Ohio, Elder Sherwood from Arkansas and Sister Franco from Washington. They are all cool and I have nothing super noteworthy to report now about them. With the loss of Sister Alvarado and Elder Marquez, all our missionaries were born in the United States. (They were born in Guatemala and Chihuahua respectively.) It kind of changes the face of the missionaries in the Montebello ward a bit, a lot more gringos.

Quick note, to those wonderful souls that wrote me this week, ya'll are the best.

I got a haircut this morning, which was cool. Hermana Becerra used a 7 (I think?) so that might give some of you an idea of what it looks like. It's pretty short but I can still part it so the spirit has room to get into my head. It will be much easier to do my hair in the mornings without the mop that I've been having to deal with. 

I've had 3 fun experiences with children this week that I would like to share. (Sorry that I'm boring). The first was at night a couple days ago in a neighborhood. We were stopped while E.B.[Elder Bennett] made a phone call. A group of middle schoolers came up to me and asked if I'd like to buy some chocolate. I quickly responded, I will if you get baptized. The oldest of the girls said, I've already been baptized and then I said, and I've already bought chocolate! I thought I was being clever and they laughed. I'm so smart haha. But I then told them that I didn't have any money to buy chocolate with. I then talked to them for a few more minutes about their successes soliciting and why they were selling chocolates anyway. It was fun to swap a few stories of rejection and persuasion with my fellow pests, I mean happiness-bringers. Then we went our separate ways, they bringing temporal happiness, and Elder Bennett and I bringing eternal happiness. The next was with a group of elementary schoolers in the middle of a road while trying to find an investigator. We talked about how drugs and bullying were bad. It was cute to hear their innocence. The youngest of the group told me how drinking alcohol was bad as well as smoking and I agreed with him, but smiled and thought about how this conversation would go ten years from now with this same group of kids. It's incredible how people change. Small example of a bigger picture. Someone once told me that personalities change every 5 years. I don’t fully understand what that means or how that works, but it is interesting to think about and it is no better represented than with young children. After they had taught E.B. and I about these things, they asked if we had any stickers. Then shortly there after we had to get going. The final was last night. While waiting for a member to accompany us to a lesson, I was talking to the people who were around us. No one really wanted to talk. Except for Saraldia. And she was 5. It was cute. She was telling me about why she loves church and the things that make her happy and sad. She told me how her parents used to fight a lot until they started going to church together and how that made them stop fighting. That made me smile. She talked about how she threw up in school on Friday and how she has a lot of friends. When we said we had to go she ran up and gave me a hug. I was on my bike and not expecting it but she wrapped her little arms around my (big) legs. I was a little shocked. I know that I am not supposed to touch children, or anyone of the opposite gender so I wasn't really sure what to do. After a second she didn’t let go so I patted her on the back and she squeezed and then let me go. As we biked off she yelled "see you tomorrow!" which made me smile all he way home. Kids are fun.

Last thing. 

Here is the story. Hermano Guillermo Herrera has been sick for a very long time. Like some bad, bad cancer. He was bed ridden and tubed up. We visited him a few times and once we gave him a blessing. He felt better he said and the next day he still said he felt better. Like 2 weeks later, I just had the idea to stop by again and he asked me for another blessing. I gave him a blessing this time of comfort and peace and the strength to do God’s will and other things. Then I got his whole family together, and we said a kneeling prayer together (there were like 20 of us) and it was very powerful. I prayed for a knowledge of God’s will and some other stuff. The spirit was very strong and the family thanked me like 100 times. His wife and 2 daughters were crying and their husbands were very grateful. I think half the family were members the other half weren’t. Hermano Herrera died the next day. I think I killed him. Like I know I didn't, but it's kind of scary to think about it. I haven’t gone back to visit the family but I hope they don’t think I cursed him or anything like that. I want to go and visit them, but I don’t want them to think that he died because of what I said. I hope that our prayers and blessings eased his passing and eased it for his family as well. I know that they can find solace and happiness in the gospel and teachings of Christ and I plan on sharing that message with them sometime. I just need to stop being scared and do it. 

So that's pretty much all for the week. Idk if I sent these pictures before, but here is an awful picture of a giant black widow outside our apartment and a picture I drew for Austin. Idk if I sent them before sorry if I did!

"Awful picture of a giant black widow"

Picture I drew for Austin

"What are we holding on to, Sam?"
"That there's some good in this world Mr. Frodo,
and it's worth fighting for." - Sam.

I love you all!
-Sam

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

October 8, 2012

Hey everyone!
First question: Why can’t we write you at your apartment address?
I don’t know really. That's just the way things work. And because if I get transferred or something like that, and we don’t want to have our addresses out there and because we don’t ever really have time to check the mail....
Are you not supposed to get/read letters, except on p-day? 
No, we can read letters and all that stuff whenever. I personally, don’t read letters until p-day though.  If I get them at another time, or if I don’t have time on the p-day I get it... I wait. I just don’t have time to read letters or for that kind of distraction. It’s hard sometimes to have letters sitting around all week but it’s what I think will help me be the best missionary possible. Most other people read them other times. I don’t. No biggy.
Or is it some security or reliability of mail issue? 
See above. Kinda of both. 

Second question: Do you have a seat for your bike? 
Yes, I have a seat. No, we didn’t get a screw. We spend like 3 hours emailing on p-days so we never have time to go get one. I'm fairly proficient now biking all the time standing up, it just is hard to keep a constant pace. I won’t be getting one this week though because we are going golfing....

Third question: Did you get the water filter bottle from Cherie? 
Yes! I did. Thank you so much Aunt Cherie! I need to write her a letter to thank her but, sorry Cherie it will be a little while.

Fourth question (request): I want to know more about your teaching situation. You said your companion had never knocked on doors before. Is this standard, because you do more street contacting stuff, or because he is timid? I would love to know how often you talk to people and in what circumstances. On the street, tracting, in members’ homes, teaching appointments, referrals?
We don't really knock doors at all in this mission. It's just not effective. Two times I've been impressed to knock doors were awesome experiences but it’s just not worth the time when we could be talking to people out in the street.
Most of the time is spent in lessons with Austin (9 year old getting baptized this Saturday - more on him later), Juana, or now Antonia & Ramiro & Joel (more on them later too.)

Fifth question: What is church like? Do you have teaching responsibilities? Have they asked you to give a talk? Have you spoken in church? Who loves you there?
Church is good, but all in Spanish. It’s good practice but it’s also easy to get lost. I luckily don’t have any teaching responsibilities; there is a gospel principles teacher so I (we) are off the hook, for now. I haven’t had to speak in church or anything like that but I do have a set of talks ready to give (in Spanish) if I ever get called on.
Who loves me at church? Shoot I don’t know. Juana? But she’s not a member. Austin? But he's not either. Brother Kelly does I think. He's a Hawaiian who doesn’t speak any Spanish but goes to our ward because his wife is from Mexico. He's boss. He was in the Air Force and can dance a mean salsa and a meaner tango. I am thinking about asking him for a few tips to practice after I get home because everybody loves a tango, I mean mango.  I'm not too loved, urgh. But I've still got time to work on that.

Conference was boss. As I've gotten older the importance of talks has largely increased so I have been looking forward to conference for a while. I actually (2 weeks ago) started 'preparing' for conference and it was incredibly effective.  Almost every talk was about something that I had recently studied and not a single scripture reference (that I can recall) was one that I hadn’t read in the last 2 weeks. So I was pumped. I watched in English.  It freaking blew my mind when they changed the missionary age. [Now young men can go on missions when they are 18 years old and young women can go when they are 19 years old – previously the ages were 19 and 21 respectively.]  I always knew it would change, but I didn’t know it would be so soon.
Conference was awesome though. I liked all the talks and I couldn’t pick a favorite yet, I'll have to read them to be able to choose. But I liked it a lot. I hope that a lot of nonmembers watched it, or will watch it. There really is something for everyone in it. 
And if you disagree... ask the missionaries!

Sixth question: Do you speak English or Spanish in your apartment with your companions? English. I am constantly trying to speak more Spanish and get them to speak more Spanish too because I (we) need a lot of practice. It’s hard because when I'm the only one speaking Spanish it gets frustrating but usually when we are out and about we are speaking Spanish which is good.

Seventh question: When are transfers?  
Tomorrow!
How often are they?  
6 weeks
I imagine that you will still be with Elder Bennett but that Elder Bishop will go elsewhere.  Is that right? 
So right. Elder Bennett is getting "promoted" to District leader and I to "district monkey" so I get to have new responsibilities and all that now, which rocks. Elder Bishop is off to the east to be with an Elder Duncan? I think that's his name. He found out today and leaves tomorrow. Crazy life ehh?

Okay. I don’t know if I've talked about Austin before. He's a nine-year-old whirling dervish and not the kind from the Middle East. He's the kind that Coach Phil Weston was talking about. He's more of a Tasmanian devil. He has a tragic story. When he was still in his mom's belly she tried to do an abortion on herself by taking a lot of heroin. It didn't work and Austin suffered immensely for it. He has many disorders but he is still a sweet little boy. His prayers are always something like this, “Please bless mommy that she can be happy and daddy that he can find work and the missionaries that they can be safe. Please bless my sisters that they can grow big and strong. And please bless everyone in the world to be happy.” Adorbs.     
He was put up for adoption right after he was born and was adopted into a family. We are teaching him which is kinda of hard because of (just to name one of his issues) his ADD. He is always bouncing off the walls trying to show us magic tricks or have me draw him a dragon or something.

Antonia & Ramiro & Joel are an interesting story. Antonia just randomly showed up at church and we set up a lesson with her that night. When we went over we had a great lesson and the spirit was so strong and she was so open. As we were leaving I met one of her roommates Ramiro and invited him to meet with us the next day. He did. And before we even asked him, he started reading the Book of Mormon. We went back and had a great lesson with both of them. Then we set up a meeting for the next day and as we left I saw another roommate Joel, I invited him to meet with us the next day and he said yes. That day we taught all three of them and Joel had started reading the Book of Mormon before we asked him to. It was cool. Ramiro says he is going to bring another friend tonight, but we'll see.
I hate the word cool. It doesn’t mean anything. So for the story above, just choose your own adjective that properly describes that story to you. I'm sure I agree.

A couple notes about my life: 
I am like the healthy master. Not really. But I have never eaten this many fruits and vegetables in my life. I kind of have to to offset the fried chicken and beans I eat every night. The green smoothies are getting more and more exciting each time. Kale is the newest power-player to come to the healthy part.
I bought a comb. A comb. That's right that thing you put in your hair. I don’t think I've ever used one before, but now I do my hair each morning. Use a comb. I don't have a part like Elder Holland (yet) but I have one. Each morning I spend like 3 or 4 minutes doing my hair. Who'd have thunk that's something I'd do. This is the kid who took his drivers license picture with bedhead. My hair is kind of crunchy because of the gel, but I look kind of sharp, if I do say so myself.  For you Spanish speakers I use 'moco de gorila' silly name, strong stuff. It's pretty cool stuff. But yeah, I have a part in my hair each day. 
Sorry everyone! That's all the time I have. Write me a handwritten letter if you want to read more. 
I love you all
Listen to some dubstep for me.
Sam.

P.S. Here are 2 jokes for Kate and maybe Jacob too, and anyone else who speaks Spanish.
que hace una pez? nada!
cuantas estrellas estan en el cielo? sin cuenta!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Misfortunes, Maladies, Mole and just about everything else that starts with M except Misdemeanors.

Hello everyone!!!
Guess what? That's right! I found future subjunctive in the New Testament! I haven't had time to properly study it, but I'm pretty sure it's a quote from the Savior. Perrrrrrfect. It proves that it is a higher tense, a higher mood, only to be mastered by those with true gifts.

Another note: if at any time in any of my emails I seem like I am whining, I am not. I'm probably being sarcastic or something. But I always have a smile and am always finding ways to laugh at even the worst of situations. So this is weird to say... but I have a good attitude. So read all the random stuff I say with that in mind, please!

I haven't got any snail mail, or packages or anything like that this week. Maybe next week. I also have written a few letters but I haven’t found a place to mail them. Granted, I don’t have time to look, but they will be sent... eventually. There just isn’t time. I'll have time to write letters when I get home. But by then, "we can talk face to face so that our joy may be full" (see the Epistles of John). 

To talk about a few of the questions that were mentioned.
Every missionary apartment has a DVD player thing to watch the District training videos. I think it’s a great idea for missionaries who are going to work, and for the missionaries who aren't going to ... well, I guess it keeps them busy too so they don't go out and do stupid stuff.

Side note: it’s funny to think back to just like 6 months ago, or even 3 months ago and think about what I thought the mission was going to be like. I was so clueless. Almost everything I could have imagined is different. Thinking about June 1st, and October 1st, so much has changed. It’s odd. But good I guess too. I definitely didn't fully understand what I was getting into. I did and I'm so glad I made some of the choices I did, but I definitely was a little bit confused, which can be healthy at times, to a certain extent. Anyway, to be a little less ambiguous and to bring in an example, I was certain that I would want an iPod or something else like that out here. Frankly, right now I don’t need that. Maybe I'll want it next year but for now I'm fine.
The music situation is kind of funny. As most, some… does anyone know this? I don’t really like hymns very much. Well some hymns I love. Like “A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief.” That’s bomb. And, please don’t shoot me, I don't like motab [Mormon Tabernacle Choir]. Luckily for me, I am learning how to like it. We listen to a lot of hymns here on a mission in one way or another, whether it is a meeting or in the shower, hymns are all around us. Although singing in the shower and in meetings are very different experiences. I don’t have my back up crew when I'm belting it in the shower :). 
I hope I don’t say this too much but I do miss music a lot.
So to sum all that tangent up, I'm set for right now in the music category. I don't have too much time to think about music anyway, there is work to be done!

Right now, I am emailing you from a Family History Center on Pecos and Osage (idk if anyone has looked at where we are or anything). The computers here are so sweet! They have sick glass screens and the monitors are huge! They are like 18' deep! It’s so awesome. There are holes and stuff in the sides and top so I think if I tried to play music it would come out of there, but I don’t know.  I didn’t try. They are called Gateway 2000's. It must be a new brand or something that came out since I got on the mission. They are totally wicked.

No one uses the Family History Centers on Mondays, so we just come in here and write and read our emails. Mail gets delivered on Mondays too.  If for some reason I didn’t have to buy food or do any other p-day activities we could sit in this lab for the whole day writing poetry home or something. 
But I'd go crazy.

I'm not perfect. Anyone reading this knows that from first-hand experience, and everyone else knows that because I have to pretend I'm human sometimes. I have an impatience problem. Not a huge one. But I've noticed, and I think this is a mission specific issue, that I don’t like down time. Maybe it's because I'm messed up, or maybe that's how missionaries are supposed to be, but I hate just sitting around talking. Or not doing missionary stuff. The problem is that most 19 and 20 year olds love down time and love just talking about whatever. I always just get super impatient. And it’s hard because I almost understand that everyone needs breaks. But come on, it's been five minutes, we have happiness to bring.  More on imperfect me later. 

Random thought -- when you think about it a zombie apocalypse is a lot like the civil war. You don't know who you are going to have to kill. It might be your brother. On the subject of zombies, if they attacked right now I'd use a paper cutter arm. That thing could do some serious damage. Terrible, terrible damage. 

The water situation here is so weird. No one drinks water. And we live in the middle of the freaking desert. Dere be some crazy peeps here. Anyway, a perfect example was yesterday at dinner. I am dyingggg because of how hot it was and how much we had biked. When she served us dinner (delicious mole chicken, oh soooo soo good), she asked if we wanted water. I think a tear came to my eye as I said "por favor hermana, muchisimas gracias, usted es mi segundo salvador." She laughed and brought me back a coke. Like coca-cola. I graciously accepted. A few minutes later after I tasted the deliciousness of what she had cooked, I asked for some water and she looked at me funny and told me that I already had some and pointed to my unopened can of pop. I looked down and then realized what she was talking about. Then I tried to explain that I wanted water. She then brought me a nice .... cold glass of the water that we aren't really supposed to drink... It's a crazy world out here. I know I shouldn’t drink pop, if y'all can remember, I vowed to never drink pop unless I had to, but I have had many a dinner when pop really was all I could drink. Some vow right. Maybe that's God showing me who's boss or something. I especially shouldn’t drink pop out here, but it’s a cramp or death. I'm not ready to be a zombie yet, so I've been having to drink pop. BUT! I haven’t had a cramp or anything like that. I drink like 32oz of water every hour of study in the mornings, so by the time I leave for the day (I've peed thrice at least). I have a nice belly fully of clean water (the senior missionaries bought us a filter. They're so sweet/cute). 

If you are going to write to me, just make sure you tell me how you are doing. And ask specific questions. That makes everything easier. I like hearing what new is going on. As for events and all that? I really couldn't care less. I can find out when I get home about all that junk. Not trying to be overbearing or anything, but I've been blessed to not think it's important right now.

Now I finally can tell you about the week.

Monday. After all the p-day stuff we did we biked around for 2 and a half hours and didn’t get to talk to anyone. We contacted a few people in the streets but none of that was effective. Then it’s about 8:30 and we are thinking about going home. I suggested we work up until 9, and thankfully they listened to me (maybe only a little begrudgingly). We tried to stop by Blanca Guerra's house. (That's right, her name is 'White War'). She wasn’t home, which was almost the straw that broke the camel's back but I said we should just try to knock on her neighbors’ door (to give some context, my trainer had never knocked a door before—he's been out 15 months). A young man named Jacob opened the door and talked to us for a while and then after he brought his mom Carmen. Their house was a mess, so we had a lesson outside. Lo and behold Carmen does family history work. We talked about that and talked about the eternal nature of families and she says something to the effect of, yeah, yeah, I've always known that. And we are like shocked. Then we begin to talk about the temple and she says "oh yeah I have a son that lives by there, I never knew exactly what it was, but I have always known that'd I'd go there someday." It was crazy. She was like a golden contact.  We talked about so much other stuff and she bore her testimony of service and all these things. We almost invited her to be baptized right then. But it was about 9 by then, so we set up a return appointment and headed off. Only catch is that she speaks English so she's technically not our area to teach. But it was still awesome to talk to her. If the Lord prepares people for us to talk to, she was definitely one of them.

Tuesday was interviews. It was so, so cool. I don’t want to talk about everything that President Neider and I talked about but it was all great stuff. The spirit was very strong in our short meeting. I then talked to Sister Neider and told her about my weight loss and what I eat for lunch (Spinach Carrot Broccoli Banana Strawberry and Peach smoothies) and she talked about how proud of me she was. That felt good. Then she read me what Bishop Barlow and President Lantz wrote about me and that felt really good! They wrote some really nice things about me. She said that she doesn’t usually do that but she wanted to because of what they said. 

While everyone else was getting interviewed, we had a training session which was pretty cool. We talked about Roger Barriston [?Bannister?], who I have a lot of respect for. What a bouse.

That night we knocked on another random door and had a great lesson and prayer with a family. Only problem was they weren’t in our area... (we were early for dinner). But it was cool to have another experience like that. The rest of the night we spent riding around trying to find more people to teach with no success. At about 9, we headed home while biking down the road my bike seat broke. Like the screw snapped and everything fell apart and I fell off again and re-cut open my hands and arm. But this time, because the fall was so weird, I ripped my suit pants. It wasn’t super hard because they are about 6 inches too big now, but it was about a 5 or 6 inch rip so I have to fix them before I can wear them again. But that was the least of my worries, because my bike no longer had a seat.

I wish I could say we rode home and found a replacement and everything was better. But that didn’t happen. I've been riding all around since Tuesday without a seat. THAT is a leg workout. 
It’s really hard to bike all day standing up. My legs get exhausted, especially going up the big hill. I feel like I'm swimming in Jello or something equally as ridiculous. 

But wait!  Now and I'll include a second free of charge! Just pay shipping and handling.
No, just kidding. But because I have to bike standing up I am putting a lot more pressure on my front shocks. And every time I go over a curb or something it spits grease up on me. So I don’t have a seat and when the shocks compress I get squirted with black grease in my face and all over my white shirts.
It’s been an unlucky week for me.
BUT NOTHING GETS ME DOWN! :)

Wednesday we spent most of the day at a new missionary training meeting which was really cool. Then we spent the rest of the day tracting. But we didn’t meet anyone or have any real lessons. 

Thursday we had a good district meeting. Good stuff. Elder Fischer taught us to teach the atonement, not people. Just kidding, but he almost said that. We had dinner at Juana's, which was really delicious. I had to go to the bathroom and when I got there, I was seriously pissed. Juana lives with her boyfriend Juan and their two kids (3 and 5 -- remember?). I get to the bathroom and there is porn everywhere. The walls are completely covered in it. Juana is an amazing woman and she works so hard to support her family and it makes me sad to see that that stuff was on the wall. I know its Vegas and all and that thing is usually accepted, but it made me just so mad to see that. Little kids see that every day and Juana has to live with that on her walls. It made me really sad. I don’t fully understand the situation so I shouldn’t judge. But man, grrrrrr. 

Friday, we had weekly planning so that took most of the day. We didn’t have too many lessons, so we had a bunch of contacts which was pretty good. Moving on!

Saturday, we had a baptism for a family taught by the sisters in the district. We also were on exchanges with the zone leaders, so we got to spend the day with Elder Hardy, great guy. He is teaching himself Spanish and he's actually getting really good. His accent needs some work but he's a stud and all the people love it when he talks because he is trying so hard. That night we started a fast with Juana for her situation and after we finished praying she called us her angels and that made me super happy.

Sunday. So as you remember my 1st suit got ripped real bad. So I had to wear the back up today and the backup suit is even bigger and my smaller belt doesn’t fit in the loops. So it’s bigger pants with a bigger belt. And I thought I'd be fine, but it was a recipe for disaster on my bike. I tucked my pants into my sock, as I do every morning, but it wasn’t enough. There was so much extra fabric and because I don’t have a seat, I am moving up and down a lot, these pants got caught in the chain as well and now they have a huge rip. SO, both my suit pants are badly ripped. Just my luck!

It sucked real bad that that happened.  But it was funny how much bad luck I've had this week. I literally laughed when my pants ripped. Not like a cynical, or sardonic, or crazy, or even pissed laugh. It was just kind of funny.

SO, that's pretty much my week. I had other things I wanted to write but I don’t have time.

District meetings are once a week but I don’t know about the other ones.

For exercise, I do 100 sit-ups and 50 pushups and 50 hammer curls and 50 forearm curls and sometimes some fly stuff. I do that every morning and on nights when we finish planning before 9:30 I do it all again. I don’t have any weights so I use an exercise band and gallon jugs of water. It's not bad. 

My stomach is doing much better but I have noticed that the days I forget to take the medicine I sleep different. I can’t describe why, but it’s different.

Ahhh!!! I think that’s everything. Actually I know it’s not, but duty calls.
I love you all and thank you to everyone that has been supporting me with mail! You guys are the best!
Insert Movie quote here.
I'm pumpppped for conference!
I hope you all are as well.
Embrace the doctrine. 
love yall. 
byeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeceeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee
the c was intentional.