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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!

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