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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

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