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Monday, December 31, 2012

Hello everyone!


So in my mind, it is the end of an era. 
After what seems like a century, I am getting transferred. Ode to central. I have loved my 4 months here so much. With all the people I have served with and all the so many people I have met. It doesn't even seem real.  But it is and I am very excited. I will be serving with Elder Talmage and Elder Crespo. Elder Crespo is Elder Bennett's old companion. So all of my companions have served with Elder Bennett and that will continue. Weird. Oh yeah, I'll be in the Los Feliz ward.
And Elder Bennett and I are getting DT'ed out (double transferred) and I will be getting double transferred in. So we will be starting from the ground up. It will be cool to see how everything goes down. I'm excited to meet a ward full of new wonderful people. And I'll be right close to the temple which is cool as well. And I'll be in a car. And I'll have 2 wards. And one of them will be English. So times are about to change pretty darn fast. And I'M PUMPED!
It will be sad to leave Elder Bennett, and the District and the ward and all but ... 1NE3:7! IR'E y HAR'E!

Cool, so this week has felt like a lifetime.
It begins a long time ago. On a beautiful day called Monday.
Monday was pday so we did all that stuff. Packing and emailing and writing letters, and cleaning and other things that make the time just disappear. That night before pday ended we got together as a district to take pictures and have a party. I drank wayyyyy to much cherry juice. We went around toasting random things and each other and the ward members and our investigators for a long time. It made me never ever want to leave. Weird, huh? And then after that we went to go see that De La Cruz family for Christmas Eve dinner. They told a bunch of stories from them growing up and how they met and their favorite Christmas'. That pretty much all that happened. It was a good night. 

Tuesday was a good day. Oh yeah, because it was CHRISTMAS! I hope all of your Christmases were wonderful! Full of food and music and laughter and family and friends and everything else that is good in this world. In the morning we studied and then Elder Bennett got to call his family and it totes distracted me because all I could think about was talking to mine! But my turn came. It was so wonderful :). Although it made me uber trunky. Then Elder Bennett and I opened presents together and I got soooo much fun stuff. And sooo much chocolate from all you people who love me but want me to be fat. Then we went to go visit the other missionaries in our district to see how they were and how their Christmas went and all that stuff. It was fun to share a little bit of such a special day with all of them. Then the dinners began. We only had 3. But they were all tamales. So many tamales (seemed like) 400 tamales. Some people don’t like them, but I do. I've been blessed with the ability to like almost everything I eat -except tomatoes. But I'm trying. Man, real food is so much better than MTC food. I used to hate eating back then ... what a whiner I was. We spent the night stopping in on members and reading with them the Christmas story in Luke and eating their tamales hahaha. At the end of Christmas we got our whole district to meet at Antonia's house and we sang carols to her because she was sick and he kids we out with their aunt. She cried and cried and cried. It made me so happy to see her so happy. I didn't cry, but I almost did.

Wednesday was pretty slow. But still a great day! We had dinner with the Kelly family and in order to eat that night we had to sing, so I had to sing Christmas carols on the Karaoke machine. That was weird. It reminded me of home and karaoke underwear hahaa. After dinner we had a white elephant and I got a fireman's hat. It's too small for my head so after doing a quick photo-shoot I gave it to a little kid. Then we were super far out of our area so we biked super-fast to a lesson 6 miles away and they cancelled when we got there. What a work out ;)! We stopped by Carlos's house to see if he was in and it was weird because he was actually on the phone with the Bishop when we got there asking if he could give him a blessing, "Coincidence? I think not!"

Thursday. It was (I didn’t know it at the time) my final district meeting here. Twas a good one. Elder Bennett trained us about our goals and our desires. As he explained to us, missionaries often think about their future wives, and by often I personally think it's all the time. It’s kind of annoying, but anyway. He said that he had heard phrases throughout his whole mission like 'hot wife points' and 'every time you drop you scriptures you wife gains 10 pounds' and 'every hour you spend tracting in the rain is an hour your wife spends in the gym." But then he said none of that is true, what is true is this: 'If you want a pretty wife, date pretty women.' On the mission the phrase doesn’t quite relate because (hopefully) no one is dating and shouldn't be (but sadly is) thinking about it. But it does relate. As Elder Packer says, 'you get what you go for.' And that is true. I believe it. It is a little food for thought for all of you going into this New Year. If you want it, go and get it. Do what needs to be done and understand that you are the shaper of your own destiny. Our outcomes and growth is not something that is passive or others have power over. It is up to us. Attitude and hard work are the key. K,, I  don’t think I explained that well but I don’t have time to check. We were supposed to have exchanges on Thursday with Elders Sherwood and Campbell but they kept pushing the exchange time back and back and finally we had to just cancel because it wasn’t worth it. After dinner and stuff we had a lesson with Salvador and it was super dope. I don’t have time to explain all the things that happened but it was powerful and he is going to be baptized on the 2nd of February. So I hope I can come back for that :). 

Friday was weekly planning. But before it we went to lunch with the AP's and the Zone leaders and Elder Hardy who is leaving! I remember 4 months ago he wasn’t thinking about going home and when we saw him on Friday he was just coming back from the temple and he is soooo ready to go home. After dinner with the Bishop went to see Juana and we read the Book of Mormon with her and some Ezra Jack Keats in Spanish with her kids. OH sick! SO after Juana's we were biking along a pretty ghetto part of town next to the prison and a big guy steps out of his truck and says, “Hey get in the truck.” And I was like what???? (in my head) and he after we looked at him weird he said, “I work for the police, hop in.” I felt like it wasn't a big deal because he was clearly a cop so we tossed our bikes in the bed and hopped in. He was a member in the west mission and a police dispatcher.  He was super cool. Don’t tell anyone but he let us listen to some of the training segments for the calls he gets. Some weird, weird people call 911 and some weird, weird things get reported. Like super calm people admitting to murder, tons of suicides :(. and weird things with animals... He was a super funny guy and took us to Sonic on the way home to buy us ice cream, in the middle of December,,,, only in the desert. It was cool to hear all of his crazy and scary and funny stories. Some are just pure evil and make me sad. 

Ahhh
Saturday.... we tried to visit people but no one was home or available or only single women were home and we can’t visit them. We had all our appointments flake as well which was sad. But no biggy, people have lives I just wish they were happier. This is a pretty sad city. That night as we were biking some random man stopped us and told us to love our families. He told us to call our moms and tell them we love them because we won’t have them for forever. Then he told us the stories of his family and his divorces. Twice in one night we heard from different people that we should marry someone who makes us happy, because if we aren’t happy there is no point. I kept nudging Elder Bennett the whole time because that'll be him this time next year. He's pretty trunky.  Saturday we got the DT call. Sadness.  But happiness too. New chances to grow!

Sunday was church and it was pretty normal. For dessert one of the priests in the ward made us sandwiches of Oreos, Reese’s peanut butter, Nutella, and M&Ms. ‘Twas a feast. 
Ahhh! I wish I had more time to profess my love for this area and this district and everything. I have loved it here so, so much. I can see from the time I came to now how much I have grown. I hope to continue the trend! It's weird to say that. But I can just tell and feel it. 
I've gotta email president now
I love you all so much.
Sam

Thanks for all the letters! 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

twas the week . . .

twas the week before Christmas 
and all through my head 
run mem'ries of you friends
from waking to bed.

I miss writing. Emails are nice and my extensive note taking while studying is nice too, but I miss writing, poetry, and scraps of stories and even essays.
Merry Christmas everyone! Happy holidays too, if you're into that kind of thing :). Out here in fabulous Las Vegas we've got the AC on and all the fruit is still fresh. The mountains have snow and the streets here are extra shiny (due to the increased amount of drinking, driving, and littering - usually all done somewhat simultaneously). 

I haven't got mail yet but to those of you who sent me things, thankkkkkkkk you!

Like all weeks, this one has been wonderful. Things are always looking up and I love the people I'm serving more and more each day. Since no one has told me otherwise, I'll continue doing what I have been doing, word vomiting about me! 

Monday was PDAY so naturally we ran around and tried to accomplish everything we needed to but... in the end didn't have time to do it all. Which left me without time to write to all of you individuals. I feel horrible about that. That night we went to stop by Jovita's house to have a lesson with her but when she got there she was outside on the phone. We rode up to the gate and could tell that something was wrong. We asked, and she said that now was probably not a good time and told us to come back later. She was crying and looked mad and was clearly super upset. Yikes. I don’t like crying women, it makes me feel super ... inadequate. Like the time that Antonia was bawling, oh man I about lost it. Anyway. We asked her what had happened and she opened up and started telling us in her super fast, super Mexican Spanish, what had happened. Because things aren’t super safe she hides all her money and jewelry and stuff like that in her bedroom just in case something were to happen. And she isn’t super well off, but she has nice things. But Sunday after church she went to put her earrings and stuff away and everything was gone. The money and the gold and all that. She didn't know what had happened. While telling us the story she informed us that she's super forgetful and is always misplacing things. But she said that she searched everywhere and couldn’t find it and that she had just gotten one of the bags out this morning so she didn’t know what had happened. She asked all her kids to go through and search the whole house and they all did except her 2nd oldest daughter (who is 18 so it was kind of understandable). They searched and searched and searched but they didn’t find it. She then she figured someone must have snuck in and stole it. All the kids said it wasn't them so she took her daughter the 18-year-old one and they drove down to the pawn store around the corner to see if it had been sold and they could maybe find some information about the person who sold it. But when they got to the store the girl wouldn’t leave the car. She tried and tried and tried and tried to get her to leave but she wouldn't and wouldn't tell her mom why either. So Jovita went in by herself to ask about the pieces but pawnshops don’t just disclose that information easily, go figure. So here while telling this story is where it got really hard for her. She started crying real bad about how she assumed the worst and didn't want to. She couldn't help but assume that her daughter had stolen all her things. But she didn't want to think such things about her. Then she said, she doesn't even care about the money she just wants to feel safe with her own family in her own home and wants her kids to be honest with her. A lot of the other littler details were lost in the wash of Spanish but I came away from that visit knowing so much more about her. She is such a caring mother with such a big heart. She cheered up a lot after telling us all this and we talked about her plans for being baptized. I'm so glad I'm not a parent to have to deal with that. She laughed when I told her that and said something to the effect of you'll change your mind when you are. I'm bad at telling stories I wish I could explain the whole thing better. But it totes broke my heart to see her so happy on Saturday and then so sad on Monday. That was the majority of Monday. In my journal I wrote I love life so much and I want to make sure everyone in the whole world knows it. So here's the memo: I love life!

Tuesday. Tuesday I realized I need to name my not-so trusty steed. Any suggestions? But I was on exchanges with Elder Chacon in his area so I got to meet a bunch of new people, which was cool. But then, at dinner. We got the call. Elder Talmage was needed elsewhere. It was tragic. Like it was super sad. But! That's where the Lord wanted him so I got over it pretty quick, even though he was pretty grumpy about it. So then things went back to just Elder Bennett and I. Which is great. But we both agree that things are a little empty without Talmage's stuff everywhere. And we miss his sass a lot too. After dinner we had a sweet lesson about the power of prayer with a family of newish converts. Everyone was involved and it was cool. Kids are the best. We were focusing on the two sisters and the things that they needed to talk to God about and then each of their 6 kids came in one by one into the room to talk about the things they wanted to pray about. I was shocked that orphans and homeless people came up much more often than ponies and race cars. It made me smile the whole time to talk to them all and hear their sincere prayers and desires to help the less fortunate. And I could see that the children's commitment to others and Heavenly Father softened the hearts of their mothers. Then we visited a former investigator and talked about the Book of Mormon. It was a cool lesson but I was totally distracted by the Husky German Shepherd puppy. Oh my gosh, it was sooooo cute. It was huge but still so young and when he wagged his tail his whole body wagged too. I probably should have paid more attention but I couldn’t understand and to be honest I probably didn’t try hard enough. Side note to anyone not skimming - humility in all parts of life is crucial to success, that's what I think. And that night I saw Ryan (Sarah's husband) in the March 2007 New Era! Cool eh?

Wednesday. I did a double exchange so I was with Sherwood in my area and we had a lot of great lessons. After a lesson with Jovita she made us chicharon tacos and they were so spicy that my tongue swelled up so big I couldn’t talk. She thought that was hilarious and laughed and laughed and laughed. In retrospect it was funny but I was about dying during it. Man oh man. Then later we had a lesson about faith with a part member family and it was so powerful. The husband has been less active for a number of years and his wife isn’t super interested but the other day we must have come at a perfect time because it was so powerful. I don’t think their was a dry eye in the room. Except for maybe my right one. The wife actually took the lead in the lesson and it was totally indescribable. Sherwood and I talked for a long time that night about Arkansas (where he's from). It was a good day. I've gotta pick up the pace!

Thursday was district meeting, which is always cool. At dinner that night there was Christmas music playing and the little 4 year old was trying to dance with me. It was adorable. That night we had a lesson with Marcos about the Book of Mormon (we have about 3 of these a week). He is progressing, but just so slowlyyyyyy. I want to just yell in his face and scream - STOP DRINKING AND CHANGE YOUR LIFE! YOU WILL BE HAPPIER, I PROMISE! But he has his agency and eventually he will get there. He always says that he wants to change but he isn't strong enough. Sigh. It sucks loving people because it makes you sad when they are sad. <- Take this with a grain of salt of course. Later we had a meeting with a new investigator. It was super sick. Says pretty much first thing "I have no faith, but I'm willing to try." When we talked a little more about faith, and all that she said that she's willing to learn how to, and willing to try to have it. Sounds like a desire to me (see Alma 32:28). 

Friday was weekly planning and not too much exciting happened.  Sorry!

Saturday was our ward's Christmas party and I arranged and played a musical number with the missionaries. It was super cool. But it made me so sad that I didn't stay with piano because I always get asked to play. Like all the time. With a bit of practice I played the song well and it sounded really good but I wished I could have played for everyone that asked. I feel like a lazy turd because of it. 

Sunday was awesome for a myriad of reasons. A good number of our investigators showed up and Salvador came for the first time and gave me a hug when he saw me, which rocked. He had to work after sacrament meeting but he had a really good experience, which made me really happy. Jovita was there and when I asked her how she was doing she said that she was doing great. "Everything was not so great before and I was kind of sad, but now I feel wonderful!" She said that after sacrament meeting and I was so happy. There is something different about the progression of the people we teach when they go to church on Sunday. She was so happy and it made me feel good to see that we had helped her in just a little way. Well we didn’t help her, we just invited her to help herself.

I always write too much at the beginning and don’t have time to elaborate on all the things at the end. But my time is up and I've gotta run.
Merry Christmas
I love you all so much.
remember the reason for the season
Sam

Monday, December 17, 2012

14 year-olds

Thank you to the Peterson's for the awesome pecans!  They were so delicious so thanks to y’alsies. And Sister Franco says they are super-duper delicious and she could eat them all day if she had enough and that she has already eaten them all and is sad because there are no more and she is not going to share because they are soooo delicious.

Okay. So the mission is totally indescribable. I wish I could somehow show you what life here is like. I mean if I wasn't a horrible person I would be taking and sending pictures..... :( anyway, so many incredible things happen all the time and there is no way to properly describe it all.  But of course I owe it to you all to try. So here it goes.

Monday night I got a haircut which was pretty cool. My hair was getting super long and so it was nice to cut it back down to a professional length. My part is a little different but it’ll get back to normal eventually. So just so you all know parts are a big deal here. In some ways you can tell who is new and inexperienced by their part or the lack thereof. You can also tell at the temple and things the west missionaries because they don't have parts. Oh snap! Then after all the p-day things we did we had a FHE with a less active family that was bomb. We have been trying to get them to at least read the Book of Mormon because they always flake on church so we have been starting small. We sat down with them and together as a family, with the 3 intruder missionaries, read 1Nephi 1 and talked about it as we went. It was a really good discussion and everyone was involved and interested. Then in the middle of it the punkish 14 year old son came home. In my head I was fist bumping like crazy. We invited him to sit down with us and read along and for a second looked like he was not going to but he sat down (intentionally secluded) and only texted a few times and answered a few questions and talked a little bit. He even got excited when he had an idea about the end of the chapter.

A little back story on this guy, he doesn’t like church. His mom says she hasn’t been going recently because she doesn’t want to leave him home alone. He is kind of at that (what I, only because I have been through something like it, would call) confused stage where he acts like he doesn’t care about his family or anything. But he is usually rude to his mother and siblings and always is running around with his friends, refusing to help around the house.

Back to the story, as we finished the chapter and talked a little bit about it he seemed to get a little more interested. He opened up about his doubts that there was even a God. The three of us each took turns talking about God and how we can know that he lives and loves each of us and in the middle of talking about prayer his brother and sister started fighting so things got loud and crazy and we stopped talking. Then when everything calmed down a little bit he says "can we please continue, I liked talking about this." Boom. My heart melted to see that something we had talked about had caught his interest and he wanted to know more. There was also a change in his demeanor and body language as well that I had not noticed until then either. He was more attentive and his phone was in his pocket instead of lying on his Book  of Mormon. So we said a few more words about prayer and then invited him to pray. He said he hadn’t prayed since he was a little kid so he would need help. I'll take that any day. It was no King Lamoni prayer but it was humble and sincere and everyone felt something, but more importantly he did.

I was thinking about this the other day. I have been so lucky out here on my mission to see people do things that make them happy. And prayer has been one of them. There is such a power in sincere communication with deity, especially for the first time.  Anyway, they invited us to come back next Monday for another reading of the Book of Mormon and I can’t wait :) It was so cold that night. I thought my ears were going to fall off! But a little after 9 pm when we rolled on home we made some hot chocolate to keep us warm while we planned.

Tuesday was interviews with President and Sister Neider. I love them both so much. They spend so much time and energy (all of it) to help the people of this city and the missionaries that are serving them. It is a pleasure to meet with them and hear their guidance for how I can be a better servant of the Savior. I hope so bad that I am making a good impression on the both of them. I'm not like preoccupied about brownnosing or anything like that, I just hope that they know I am here to work and not to screw around. President talked with me for most of the time about the good things I was doing and that he has good feelings about me. So that made me feel good. It was pretty short which was fine. I didn’t have too many questions and he didn’t have to rebuke me or anything so that was a good sign I guess. With Sister Neider we talked about Christmas and consecration (sounds like a book title) and she asked me to talk at our mission Christmas training/party. She gave me a story to animatedly read and asked me to bare me testimony afterwards. So that was kind of unnerving but it wasn’t a big deal. I 'm used to making a fool of myself. Oh my gosh. Tuesday we went to go see a member that is living in a ... salon de fiestas... a banquet hall. He can’t work because he can’t walk because he can’t take care of his diabetes because he can’t afford it ... because he can’t walk or work. Its sooo sad and his situation keeps getting worse and worse and he says he will probably lose his feet soon. It is so sad to hear such horrible stories especially because we hear and see them every day. He used to have a wife and 4 kids but when the economy went south he lost his job and his wife left him. Now he literally has nothing to his name except the clothes on his back and the special 'shoes for people with no toes' on his messed up feet. It makes me want to cry. But for every tear of sadness there are 2 of joy.! One of our investigators (not Juana, a different one of the 6 [now 5] that are in the same situation) called after our meeting with this man and told us she wants to get married! It was soooo exciting. Talking to her about it on the phone she was so giddy and excited. We set it up to have it done by the bishop on Saturday. She said that after she gets married she wants to get baptized. So sick. Her 9 years of investigating are about to come to a close.

Wednesday was Zone Meeting which is always cool. We get lots of training and the chance to talk and discuss the work with lots of other missionaries. I like learning from other missionaries, young and old. Ugh. So Wednesday I found out that a man, Frank (who I had contacted in the street a few weeks ago) decided to stop taking the missionary lessons. He was going so solid. He had a baptismal date for the end of the year and he was overcoming his alcoholism and his smoking problem and he was reading the Book of Mormon and doing everything. It was so cool to have talked to him and then talk with the other missionaries about his progression. We even stopped to talk to him another day to see how he was doing and he gave us a referral. He had been going to the activities and ugh. So last week he asked his boss for a day off on Sunday so he could go to church. And he got it so he and his whole family walked like 2 miles to go to church. They had been praying all week to know if they were making the right decision and they got to church and it was a horrible experience for all of them. In gospel principles the teacher and class members made racial comments about Frank and his wife. In Primary the kids were made fun of and in the third hour Frank’s wife was insulted in front of the whole Relief Society by a woman who she had never even seen before. Sunday night Frank told the missionaries that he had gotten his answer. That broke my heart to hear that. As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with His restored gospel we should be nicer than anyone else. I know that no one is perfect but there is no excuse for the way they were treated. I don’t have time to rant as long as I'd like to explain the situation but I was furious. .... deep breath,,,, deep breath.... everyone makes mistakes. Truly Frank could come to realize that everyone is human and that he doesn’t need a testimony of humanity but a testimony of the church but oh well.

Then one of the less active boys in our area asked what he needed to do to prepare to serve a mission so we talked a lot about that. It would change his life and his family’s life forever if he went. I pray (literally) that he does.

Gotta move on! Thursday was the leadership training Christmas party for the mission. It was from 9 - 4 and it was really good. Half was super spiritual training and the other half was about the spirit of Christmas. It was great. I think some people got suppper trunky but they have their agency right?
Santa (President Neider), Elder Talmage, Elder Sam, Elder Bennett, Mrs. Claus (Sister Neider)
 I promise I am not that fat...I was talking during the picture...like I always do.  Wowzers, I look so fat. 
Friday we had a great lesson with Juana about her goals for reading the Book of Mormon and she set some awesome, stretching goals which are going to help her so much in her life. Then we had a dope lesson with a young boy. Ahhh I dont ever have enough time. So we were there to teach his mom but she was tired but he said form the background, you guys can teach me if you’d like! He was super interested and super mature and 14. It was such a contrast to the boy from Monday but it was cool to see them both learn and progress even just a little at a time. Ugh. Remind me when I get home to talk about him if you are still interested.

Saturday was Jovita's Wedding!@$!@$!@$!@!!!!! It was so exciting to watch that and share that day with her. She was indescribably happy. I wish I had time to say more about her. It was a great day for her and her family. Then we met with Antonia who is bomb. She is such a great mother and the kind of parent I want to be when I get older, such faith and such desire to be better for her children.
Jovita's Wedding (She is the one in white)
Sunday was great and fairly normal, church and lessons but at 8 pm we had a lesson with a man named Oscar who was super nice and super open but he always said Dioscita.... which was a little wierd. For you gringos that means Little God. It’s super Mexican.

Puppies!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! They peed on me.
KK I've got to email prez. Sorry!
I love you all so much!!!
byeee
Sam

Monday, December 10, 2012

What a weeeeeek

Hellllo everyone and happppppy Christmas! What a wonderful time of the year this is. I'm not saying it should be the happiest but if you haven’t been too happy lately now is the time to start. You have every excuse to sport that dashing smile of yours all month long. And after that, why hide that light under a bushel?? Keep it out for the whole New Year! It will make you and those around you much happier. I promise. 

So I’ll just go over every day for you all then. If anyone hates this format let me know and I’ll change it... soonish ;)

Monday. Monday Elder Bennett was sick on Monday. Like super sick. So that changed up the whole course of the day, kind of. It made me super sad to see him in so much pain. So we did all the Pday stuff but we like had to push Elder Bennett in the shopping cart because he was too weak to walk :(. So after the normal course of Pday was taken, we went home to rest but while Elder Talmage stayed home and napped with Elder Bennett I went with Elders Campbell and Sherwood and Sisters Fernandez and Franco to hike. We didn’t go very far, but it was fun and super pretty. We could see across the whole valley and when we stopped talking, it was completely silent. A blessing I haven’t had in a veryyyy long time. What a blessing it was to just sit and look out over this great city. I'm so lucky to be serving a mission especially in such a great place with such amazing people. Funny how getting away from it for a moment helped remind me. Life works in mysterious ways. After that, they dropped me off at home and we spent the evening studying and coaxing Elder Bennett to drink!

Tuesday we went on exchanges with Montebello North [a mission area in Sam’s district] and Elder Bennett went with Elder Chacon and E'T and I were super lucky to have Elder Johnson with us. He is such a fun loving, cheerful, and god-fearing man (I’m using the scriptural definition of fear here, but I'm pretty sure that he is smart enough to be afraid of the Big Man, too). We had an action-packed day planned but things got thrown off because E'B didn’t have enough strength to bike until later in the afternoon, so we had to move some lessons around. So then after the exchange the three of us went to contact some referrals but they were not home. Dinner was like 5 miles away, so we talked to some people on our way out there. After dinner we tried to go to all our lessons, but all three cancelled which almost! made me sad, so instead we went to visit some less active families. I goaded E'T into using his hidden Spanish skills and he was bomb. He got one family to promise to come back to church right then and there. It was really cool. He shared a powerful scripture and then talked about how they were not receiving all the blessings that our Father in Heaven wanted for them. They said that they could feel that too. That was a full day but not a lot to write about.

Wednesday was weeeeird but another great day. In the morning E'J and I drove E'T to the University (of Las Vegas). It was cool to get to drive again, but being on a college campus like that was horrrrrible for my focus that day. It was full of young people doing their thing. Some of them just waking up (we got there at like 11am), others running to and from classes, others proving to me that BYU isn't the only place with PDA problems (and in fact, BYU wasn’t quite as bad because they were way more modest), and there was just that sense of excitement all around. Elder Johnson and I talked about it all the time we were waiting for the other missionaries to pick up E'T. It's hard to explain what it was like there. Later, after dropping off the car, some member randomly gave us some tamales, which were delicious. But. While biking home and eating simultaneously my back wheel of my bike popped off and I was ejected from the bike and hit the wall and lost all the innards to my tamale and I got scraped up pretty bad. But it was super funny. Luckily I knew what I needed to do to fix it, so we weren’t just stranded. Elder Johnson almost wet himself, I think. Exchanges ended that afternoon and Elder Bennett and I went to go visit a Cuban woman who needed a blessing. She lives in our area but refuses to let Elders into her house which is a problem because sisters cant really give blessings.... but she finally let us in. We visited with her for a while and got to know her and talked about a chapter from the Book of Mormon and the faith it takes to read and follow the things we learn. It was a powerful time for us to bear our testimony of the Book of Mormon, and it was what she wanted to hear as well. Faith is such a beautiful topic. And it encompasses everything from hope to power. Faith in Jesus Christ is really everything. With it I have seen so many people change. Those who are kept from the truth only need to fully understand that it is in faith in our Savior that they will find it. Anyway. Then we gave her a powerful blessing. When she tried to thank us, neither of us could understand her. Her Cuban accent was tough but through tears it was impossible. When we did understand her, she invited us back to eat dinner. I'm pumped for it. Hopefully, I'm still here in central. Dinner that night was straight authentic Mexican, beans, rice, food poisoning, meat and all. But I didn’t know about the food poisoning until Thursday. After dinner I went to go on splits with the Zone Leaders because they needed help working in their area, so Elder Shreve and I went to visit a lot of his investigators. It was cool to be able use my English for a change.

Thursday. That was a tough day. Talmage and I were soooooo sick. In his words, "that cheese really jacked us up." We had district meeting, which was pretty good. Elder Bennett trained us in the ways of missionary stuff and then we went home and I spent the rest of the day walking the line between my bed and the toilet. In retrospect I don’t think Talmage or I ate that day.... That night we tried to go out to a lesson with Salvador. We got all suited up and took our
Pepto and took what seemed like the hardest bike ride of my life. But we got in there ready for Elder Bennett to carry us through, because Talmage and I were dying. We had prayed for the ability not to vomit over our investigator and we didn’t. So that was a blessing. On top of all the other blessings we already had! I'm going to be perfectly honest though, the lessons was about 2 steps less than average. But he knew that we are only human and sometimes get super duper sick. So no harm, no foul.

Friday was a day. We got to go to the temple, because Elder Talmage is new, so that was cool. Twice in a transfer is crazy lucky. Some missionaries only get to go 2 times in a year. We are so blessed. It's incredible. But we expended all our energy not dying during the session so Elder Talmage and I went home after that and slept. It was crazy how tired we were. 

Saturday... The day started with a breakfast at the stake president’s house. It was nice to meet with him and discuss the status of our wards and all the work that is going on within. After that we made programs for a baptism. Then we did what is called a district blitz. Our whole district and the zone leaders went to Elder Chacon's area to work it for 3 hours. We started with a prayer for miracles and they were seen. We talked to so many people. So many. We visited a large bunch of less active families who all seemed like they were just waiting for someone to invite them back to church. And we found so many others who seemed like they were waiting for us to come teach them. It was cool. Super cool. Montebello movin' mountains! Then we had a lesson with one of our newer investigators and 'set' her for baptism before the end of the year. All 4 of us were super excited.

Sunday. Normal Sunday. There was a member baptism that I had to play the piano for. It went way better than I expected. But it was definitely something I haven’t done for a while. Like a long while. Bishop said I had been hiding my talent and I think now he wants me to play in Sacrament [meeting], hopefully I get transferred before he remembers. Just joking. I'd love that opportunity to serve.
And that brings us to now. 
I hope that is good enough. I wish I had more time. 
Aight peeps. Love you all so much.
Stay safe, stay warm, stay classy.
<3
Sam  

Monday, December 3, 2012

This week's delicious letter

I don't know why I began with delicious but that to me seems like an apt description of the day, the week, and life in general. Yummy!

So nothing went as planned this week because of the great blessing of the newest member of the wolf pack. Weighing in at maybe 120 pounds standing at 6'1" from Layton, Utah comes the fierce, bold, and fastball throwing Elder Talmage! He's super cool. I/We are glad to have him here with us in Central. He is waiting for his visa to go to Mexico City but it hasn’t come yet and the word on the street is that he will be with us through the end of the year. Sick!

Before I forget, thanks to everyone for all the awesome letters and packages these last 2 weeks. I haven’t even had time to read them but hopefully I get to today because Elder Bennett is sick and we'll see if we get out to work tonight. Ya’lls are the best, I wish I could keep up, but I'm glad I can’t.

To Erin and Hailey. Idk if you to have internet out in the boonies but I have proof that you haven’t forgotten about me! :) Thank you so much for the postcard. It made me extra happy that it came from the both of you and from so far. It's a dope card too. 

Most of Monday after emails was spent trying to figure out how E.T' (lol) is going to have space and a bed and all that. Then we had to go get him from the office and all that. So Monday was shot and we didn’t have any lessons that night so we just tried visiting a bunch of people.

Tuesday was exchanges with the Zone Leaders. E'T. and I went with Elder Shreve from Wyoming. We spent the day talking to referrals and setting up appointments. We talked to a lot of people: more than 60 different people and left commitments with 48, which was a record at least in my book. I love talking to people so much. It's so much fun to hear other peoples stories and problems and all those things and try to help them. After that morning we went to a few lessons that we had scheduled. At one of them, Salvador told us that he was on chapter one still. I was about to ask why he hadn't been reading when we found out that it was chapter one of Helaman, like he read up to there, Isaiah and war chapters and all. Dope. So that was super unexpected but quite welcome as well, he says that he knows 70% of it is true but the other 30% isn't true because it is already found in the Bible. We tried talking to him about this but it didn’t go over quite as well as we wanted. We definitely need to try again to explain it because I think 70% is about 31% to few. After that we did an hour of impromptu service (to one of 6 investigators we have that want to be baptized but cannot because their respective husbands will not marry them) we helped clean up her back yard. It was such a beautiful night. Vegas is so beautiful if you can look past the sex, drugs, and sadness.

Shoot. Short of time. Moving on to Wednesday. Wednesday we stopped in to visit Juana and she made us lunch which was super nice of her. She also made us her smoothies and shakes for us to try. She's a saleswoman by trade and I must say that she was quite effective! If I wasn't a broke missionary I would have bought some. We did some other stuff throughout the day but then later in the evening we went to the Bishop's house to talk about some of the baptismal records and stuff. He fed us sooooo much pie and spent like an hour explaining Settlers of Catan to us and all the expansions. It maybe wasn't the most effective use of our time but I think he liked it. He's a great guy, our bishop is.

Thursday I got my bike back and I guess the problems with my seat are beyond the bike coordinators repair so I need to go to a shop sometime soon to get the post fixed up. After dinner Thursday we were coming home with E's Chacon and Johnson and I tried to be silly and bike between them but they both wobbled into me at the same time and we all ate it. Both of them fell sideways off their bikes and I was thrown forward and did a flip and a half. I had no idea what happened until I fell on my head. Luckily I was wearing my helmet. Kids. Always follow the rules, not matter how annoying. They are there to protect you. (cough, lawofcoughchastity, cough wordcoughofwisdom cough) I felt like an idiot, luckily no one was hurt and I was only a little dazed. I'm never gonna do that again. I tried to be silly and put people in danger. I am actually super embarrassed to even say that I did that :(. Oh freak, then that night we had 2 dope lessons, both with 2 new investigating families. The first was super excited to be baptized and the second family not as much but she, the wife, gave us an entire cheesecake. It was sooooo awesome. She asked us to come back and then had us try some cake she made and we said we loved it so she gave us an entire one! I took it home in my backpack. Some things only happen on missions. In my journal I wrote "I love being loved." We are all so lucky to be loved by so many people. “We” includes everyone in the world.

Friday we had a lesson with Antonia and it almost turned into her giving a talk on faith. That woman has more faith than I have ever personally seen. Part of it is probably necessary for her survival but either way it’s powerful. She was so many stories about prayer and faith and reading the scriptures and how they help her every day. Every time we go over there she is either reading the Bible or The Book of Mormon. And she always asks us about the temple. It warms my heart. Also on Friday we saved a dog’s life. Or at least I like to think that we did. Our neighbors’ disappeared and left their pit-bull puppy outside all week on their 5 by 5 patio. It wouldn’t have been as horrible except when they left the patio was a huge mess and the dog literally couldn’t turn around. It whined and whined and whined. We tried to block the whining out of our heads for the first few days but by Friday it got to be too heartrending. We went to look at it and it didn’t have any food or water or any blanket or bedding and it had been eating paper and chair legs. Not just chewing, eating. Its stools were like 90% paper and wood.  That almost made me cry. So we gave it some food and some water and .... I may or may not have cleaned the neighbors patio to give the dog a little more space ..... Probably a bad idea but I did it. The dog certainly appreciated it.

Moving on to things that don’t involve trespassing... Saturday we had a lesson with a part member family. The husband is a member and his wife is not. It was ... weird. He is pretty less active but he has a special spirit about him. Her, on the other hand, she does not. It's not that she’s a bad person or anything, she just doesn’t have the same.... brightness, or glow, or I dunno. I can’t describe it. But you could feel and see a huge spiritual difference between these two people. It was bien interesante. 

Sunday was church and all the things that go with that. It was a good day and I liked it a lot. We went to visit Marcos right after dinner and he was super happy to see us and we talked about a lot of stuff with him. He is such a special person when he hasn't been drinking. I am also understanding him way better than when I first got out here. It was cool to see him sober and with a new hope to stop drinking. He went to church with his wife today which is way better than nothing and he also said that he was going to try to start reading The Book of Mormon whenever he wants to drink. I don’t know too much but I know that if he stays true to his word he will be happier because of it. Repentance, fingers crossed. Not in the condemning way, but a turning from the things that make him sad to the things that will make him happier. Not to mention save him a lot of money. He drinks a lot of Patron. The bottles look cool though I guess.

Aight everyone. Because of all the craziness that's all the time I have this week!
I love you all so much. 
One of these letters I'll be able to properly express what it is like to be doing the Lord’s work.
In the meantime
ciao!
Sam