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Monday, November 5, 2012

HAPPY BIRTHDAY KATE

Happy Birthday Kate! I love you and miss you. I'm sorry I haven’t written you back, this goes to everyone too. I carry your letters with me all P-day to try to write but there is never enough time! I'm so grateful for each and every one of you that support me in whatever way it is. Prayers, Post or Packages all of them help me to be the happiest and best missionary I can be. But back to Kate! I'm sorry I didn’t have a letter to you by your birthday, but I hope that it was a fun and safe day with you and your friends. Think about your next birthday! You could be in college having a birthday party with new friends in a new place, weirrrrdddd. 

I'll start by answering a few questions-- 
Elder Bennett and I speak to each other in English most of the time. Most of the people we talk to speak Spanish. Our area is surprisingly Hispanic. I couldn’t put a number to it but it's definitely a higher percentage of Spanish speakers than most people are used to. Street contacting people is usually just a guess. We see people and talk to them. It's my goal to not let a single person I see escape with anything less than a smile and a wave. So my mouth gets pretty tired and my arm too. Most people on the street are not too interested because they are on their way to or from somewhere. But sometimes you get someone who really finds something interesting in what we say. 

Funny quick story, earlier in my mission days (hahaha), I used to just say “hola” to everyone, until one day I saw black hair and said “hola” and the woman looked up and screamed, super offended, I'M FILIPINO, YOU JERK! I felt horrible and turned my bike around to go apologize. So now I say “hello” to everyone until I'm sure they are Hispanic and then I just transition into speaking Spanish. It kind of freaks some of the people out but they get over it. Not too many gringos try to speak Spanish to the Latinos around here. 

My area is super ghetto and poor and sadly most of the people we are teaching are on the bottom end of that spectrum. It's hard to find work when you do not speak the language, so many of them are out of work because they can only speak Spanish :(.

Humm Mom... your questions.
Elder Bennett gets sick a lot. For the past while it's been about one or two days every week.  When he is too sick to work, I have the wonderful blessing of studying! It's nice and sometimes hard to study from 7:30am to 4:30pm but I get a lot of study done. At this rate I will have finished the church canon 1.5 times from June 27 - Christmas. And it’s studying too. I really have taken President Hinckley's advice and been having "a love affair with the word of God." I quote them all the time and I try to be able to relate everything I say to a scripture. Not to be overbearing, just to practice knowing them even better. And it's helping. It’s hard sometimes because that is a lot of time to study but there isn’t much else I am allowed to do.

As for me and my health? I'm doing wonderful. Sometimes my stomach hurts really, really bad, but most of the time it doesn’t and it never keeps me from doing missionary work so that's all that matters. I think my new diet is what is really helpful. I'd recommend it to anyone who wants to feel good. One day, I'll break it down. It’s pretty simple. 

Elder T.'s brother served in South Carolina and yes, he is from Hawaii! It's funny that you found him... the internet is so creepy. 

I didn’t get a new bike seat but I got a new screw and now my bike seat is attached to the bike. I don’t use it as much as I could because I've gotten so used to biking standing up. I have so much more power that way. ZOOM!

In our mission, I think there are 90 Spanish-speaking missionaries, but I'm not sure, and now there are going to be way more! Wahoo for 18 year olds. The world is changing. (Kate is not going to be able to date anyone her age if she goes to BYU).

I've used the pant straps and they are quite effective, thanks mom :) you're the best. It also helps that I stopped wearing hammer pants (include a pic for the 'unlearned').  Oh, and I'm on the last loop of my belt so.... if I lose any more weight I'm going to have to buy a new one. Shucks. 
Hammer pants for the 'unlearned'
So now for like the 10 minutes left! This week!
First and foremost Antonia got baptized! It was awesome!! In her pictures, she is not smiling but I promise she was happy about it. For some reason she was telling us why she won’t smile in any pictures... It's kind of like me I guess but hers is a little more superstitious and mine is a little more self-loathingish. But it was so cool! She was super ready and excited to take that step in her life. Right after she was done she told me that the next step is the temple and I just about lost it. 
Elder Bennett, Elder Bishop, Antonia, Elder Anderson
BUT! The funniest of stories. Before the service I was changing and helping the little boy in the picture to get changed and stuff when I heard someone splashing around in the font. I went and opened the door and saw Antonia dunking herself...! I asked her what she was doing and she told me that the ward mission leader had told her to go on in and to get started and she interpreted that as baptizing herself. So she did. It was so funny and she was super embarrassed (and I was a little bit too). I've never heard of an investigator baptizing themselves before but it was cool. It also meant that I didn’t have to get wet because it was already over which was nice. So I got to change out of my clothes.   Just kidding :).  But she really did baptize herself. Later the Ward mission leader said during the program that she has everything she needs except the authority, idk in Spanish it was super funny. That was definitely the highlight of the week! Don’t judge for the faces. I am smiling and looking at the camera in different ones I hope. 
Elder Marquez, Errison, Felix, Elder Chacon, Antonia, Elder Anderson
Lemme check my journal real quick. 
Oh! Brother Kelly! Brother Kelly is like my freaking hero. He's a boss. He is from Hawaii and was a paratrooper in the Vietnam War and had like a million jumps. He is married to Sister Kelly and is such a good husband and dad. I can’t really describe him too well. He has cancer right now and is suffering really bad. The doctors aren’t sure if he can make it to Christmas but he is so strong. He still is such a gentleman all the time and always treats Sister Kelly with so much respect. He still works his butt off all the time in whatever way he can and often we, and others, especially Sister Kelly have to ask him and then tell him to stop. Idk I can’t even say enough. I wanna be like him. 

Carlos is a youth in the ward who comes out with us a lot. He's a great young man and is going to do great things in Spain. I can’t remember what I wanted to tell you about him but he's boss.
KK so this week I saw that little girl Saraldi like 4 times this week and the last time she came running up to me to give me a huge hug. It made me feel so good. I just hope I don’t get damned for allowing a rule to be broken... jk I'm not worried about it. Oh! Last Monday, I found like half my grocery needs on managers special which was dopeeeee.

Tuesday I wasn’t feeling too good but we had a full day of member visits which was pretty cool. One person gave me a coconut popsicle which was pretty delicious. 

OH dang! Wednesday was insaneeeeeeee. I hope I have time to describe it all. So we aren’t allowed to work on some days because it is too dangerous for missionaries so there is always a mission party. But there at the party they just watch a movie and visit and I really didn’t want to do that so Elder Campbell and I got permission to go to a stake party! It was such an effective use of our time and I got to dress up! I went as Elder Campbell and he went as me! We had to walk though because Elder Bennett and Sherwood took the car to the mission office. It was a 3 mile walk but we contacted people on the street all the way there and as well I got like 117 people to wave and smile at me (I may or may not have counted,,, but I got 12 people to smile at me in a row which was cool). So we went to this party and it was insane. There must have been more than 200 people there and they were playing all this music that I thought I wouldn’t hear for 2 years, everything from Time Warp from Rocky Horror Picture Show to Phantom of the Opera and everything in between. It was planned as a missionary party so us being there was super helpful. We talked to probably15 families about the church and maybe half of them had never heard of the church they just saw the party and stopped in. At the party there were 25 types of chili and 25 different types of pies (2 of each type as well!!!!) There were like ponies and stuff too (not to mention horses and a guy on fire and I think brick killed a guy with a trident). But so after the party was over Elder Campbell and I helped clean up and got a member ride home. We got back to the apartment at like 10:00 and the other Elders hadn’t come back yet and Campbell didn’t have a key so I had to pick the lock into his apartment. While we were picking the lock though, some woman came down and was talking to us and we both shared our testimonies and then she ran to her car and brought us some water bottles and fresh still warm tamales. They were sooo delicious. And then we were so tired we fell right asleep once we got inside. We weren’t planning on exchanges but neither of us wanted to wait for the other missionaries to come back from the party or whatever they were doing. 

Sorry I’ve got to skip some details. This week in a lesson with Marcos he said that he was really disappointed with the members of our church because he once went to conference with his sister and saw a bunch of people sleeping. He asked, if that was really the prophet why weren’t people paying attention to the word of God? It was a really good question that made me think a lot. Of course the answer is because we make mistakes but that doesn’t discredit the prophet, only us. But it was interesting to think about.

Ummmm oh freak! So Friday morning I wake up in the middle of the night to the phone ringing and I look at the phone and it is a number I didn’t recognize. I thought about not answering it because it was like 12:30 but I decided to do it anyway. It was a good thing I did because it was Sister de La Cruz, Austin’s mom calling. Brother de La Cruz fell out of a tree and cracked his head open. He had to get staples and everything and his brain was swelling and he messed up his shoulder and back really bad. AND all three of her kids had asthma attacks and Austin stopped breathing at school and he was like throwing up blood or something (it’s hard to remember it’s all like a nightmare still) but Brother de La Cruz falling out of the tree was like the icing on the poopycake. Oh! And she didn’t find out he was in the hospital till super late because they couldn’t afford to pay for the phone this month and she was on the bus or something and he was unconscious and couldn’t give anyone her number and information for a long time. He was in the tree because he was working, he does landscaping. It really made me think about how much people rely on us. She called us and was so scared and I felt so good to be able to comfort her and pray with her and calm her down. She was a mess when she called. 

People really love the missionaries. It’s wonderful to feel so loved from back home but here too. I guess people can really see something special about us. We were in a lesson last night with an investigator who knows The Book of Mormon is true but doesn’t want to not be Catholic anymore. (Which brings up the interesting question, is he still Catholic if he believes and knows The Book of Mormon is true?  Hmmm, fun things to mull over in your head. Of course there are tons of answers and ways to argue.  Sometimes, when Elder Bennett is sick, I argue with myself about things like this just so my brain doesn’t go to mush over these 2 years.) But, anyways he loves the missionaries. He and his wife gave us a gallon of milk and some Cheerios and we didn’t even ask! I was a little confused but they explained because of food stamps and their kids they couldn’t drink as much milk as they get each week and the Cheerios are a gift. I tried to decline but they were persistent which made me super happy. It’s funny to see how much a bunch of random 19 and 20 and soon 18 year old kids can do in the lives of others.

I am trying to type fast so someone please go back and spell check. Sorry :( I wish I had more time but you guys want better letters and I’m trying as hard as I can but we don’t have too much time. 
Thanks for the letters again. I really, really wish I had more time and was a better missionary and I would have written all of you back. 
Okay I think that's all for this week. I still have to write to President Neider. 
I love my district, but not as much as I love all of you.
I hope to hear from you all soon and I miss you guys lots.
Byeeeeeeeee
Sam
She'd eat if we were having Tonyloaf!    [:27]

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