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Monday, January 28, 2013

herrrrrro!

Oh man. Do I love life or what?!
I haven't got any letters yet, so I'm going in blind. Not that it usually makes too much of a difference..... 
This week for personal study I studied more of the atonement and grace and then some of the question - "Why did Jesus Christ have to be crucified?" And then a lot of studying of the plan of salvation.
Interesting that the difference between Christ’s and Lucifer’s plans- one was salvation and the other slavation. Literal thanks be to God that we, and He, chose the first.
Oh, and my phrase of the week has been, "What a blessing." I say it allll the time. 

Kk. so the week!
So Monday a little after emailing all you loverly people I did a coin car wash for the first time ever. It was super fun! It was freezing though and I got really wet because I wasn't quite sure how to keep the water from getting me all wet while spraying the car down. But it was a nifty new experience! The car looked super clean afterwards. After that we went to the Schwenke's house for dinner where we made our own spam mousubis (sp?). It’s fried spam and rice and seaweed. It was actually really tasty. They are such nice people. I wonder what we'll eat there tonight?! They are a sweet, sweet family and love the missionaries and all their neighbors. It was sweet to hear them talk of Hawaii and all their memories and all the tips they gave me if I ever go out there. After that we visited a less active member who is trying to prepare himself to go on a mission. I don’t remember if I talked about him before. He is 22 and wants to make something of himself. He was baptized when he was young but his parents separated and he and his sister never really went to church after that. He has such a strong desire to do what is right. He wanted to know about the commandments and kept asking and asking what they meant and the best way to keep them. After we had taught him the 10 and the 2 great ones, he asked us how he should repent if he broke them. I might say this too much, but I about cried! It was so touching to see such a desire to be right with God, and to please Him. That's choosing the right, repentance. He was great. After we had taught him a lot we tried to go but he wanted us to stay and teach him more because it made him feel good. What. A. Blessing.

Tuesday! Tuesday was a great day. We had Zone Conference at 8am. It was so good. It went from 8am to 4pm. Before my mission I would have thought that anything after noon would have been a waste because no one can pay attention that long! But now that I am here and striving to be my very best, I was just as edified from the beginning as I was from the end. Some might have gotten left behind, but not me! I'm never gonna let that happen. I learned so many ways to become a better missionary and then later to become a better part time missionary but still full time disciple. I love learning like that. It is such a wonderful blessing. Then we rushed to our appointment that was scheduled to be at 4. It was kind of funny because we were told that everything would be over at 1 so we had things scheduled but we had to cancel and then runnn out of there. At the lesson with Juan Pablo he committed to be baptized on the 16 of February, so pretty soon! He is almost ready. He has done the first part of life and gotten rid of the bad parts and bad habits, but he hasn't quite gotten to the point where all the gaps are filled with good habits and good things. Most specifically church. He goes, but not very often (his wife is a member but on the less active side [attendance wise]). But he is smart and has great faith and loves learning more. He asks a lot of hard questions that I would struggle to answer in English! Luckily Elder Crespo has this whole 'Spanish' thing down pat. I love meeting with him. He has changed so much since the missionaries first started teaching him. Yolanda, his wife, actually has a very interesting conversion story. She was raised Catholic and one Easter morning was watching the Ten Commandments movie. When it got to the part about the commandments she realized that she wasn’t keeping them, and that her church wasn't helping her to, or even teaching her to. So she began searching for which church was right and went to about all of them until she found ours. And now she is here to stay. Great woman. She always says to us that if we don’t like what we have for dinner to come to her and she'll make us whatever she wants. Awwwww.

Wednesday I went on exchanges with Elder Alvarez in my area. He knows how to work with members really, really well. He is super friendly and knows how to get close with the families right away. And they give him a lot of free food. I've picked up a few tricks to add to my own bag of charm. I love exchanges because I get new ideas on how I can be a better missionary. We had a lesson with a recent convert and he told us his life story. I won’t go into all the very private details, but it is such a pleasure to be able to meet and talk to and serve such wonderful people. I am always floored with how awesome people are. And I get to meet so many great people. He was telling about his gospel knowledge and said that the topic he was most comfortable with was agency. Smart guy. And every time we go to his house he is either serving someone else or getting back from helping them. 
Shoot. No time. 
Wednesday we had dinner with a family and it was right before the pine wood derby and we prayed that the kid would win... and he did. He was sure that we were prophets. Is that cheating??

Thursday was a great day. We met with a family that has 17 kids. 17 with the same 2 parents! That house was crazier than the foster family house. I got mistaken for a cop 3 times. That happens a lot around here. Idk what to think about that oh and I got attacked by a husky-wolf mix. It was a huge dog and  my coat is super messed up. I’m okay though.

Friday we had a b-day party for the Sisters in the zone and then we planned and then later we contacted a referral and they didn’t understand at all. I testified of eternal families and he says "yeah it’s sad. I have to explain to my kids that one day we will die and won’t get to be together but that's my job as a parent. He cries but some things are hard to do as parents." We tried to explain again but he didn’t get it. It made me so SAD!!!! Life should be happy, we are that we might have joyYY~!!!

Saturday we went to the temple! What a blessing and then later we cleaned up horse poo for 3 hours in the middle of the city. Fabulous Las Vegas and we cleaned horse and stables. We filled an entire dumpster up with manure. That night we talked with a missionary who came home early from Africa because of an eye infection. That would be so tough to have to come home early. He was on a date the next day.... I don’t think I could handle that (maybe more on him later). Hopefully he comes out with us before he gets too distracted. 

Sunday was great too! I got to go to 3 different sets of meetings so that took a lot of time and then we maybe picked up a former investigator and her sister to teach which would be so awesome! OH then that night we were at a member’s house and the 2nd counselor pretended to hit us when we were outside the house. I almost peed my pants I was so scared. When I saw that it was him, I almost peed my pants again. It was funny. I’ll tell the story better when I get home or something.
Sorry!!1
I love you all so much
Sam
byeeeeee

sorry it's short today. :(

Monday, January 21, 2013

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood

Remember that Mr. Rogers song from forever ago? That was cool. When I get home I wanna listen to it, all I can remember is that I liked it.

So. This was another great week. They are all so great which is cool.
Time is super short this week. So the email is going to be super short. SORRY! 
Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. 

Jeez. Lemme just blab for a second. I love serving. I am quite happy to be alive. Life is supposed to be happy. If you're not happy, repent. And I say that because I love ya’ll.

What a great week this has been.  I think, if I remember, I will report on interesting things I studied in personal study. I have been studying a lot about the atonement and specifically grace, or, as Elder Bednar calls it “the redeeming and enabling powers” in case you all were interested.

I'll begin with Lunes. - Pday was pretty normal. We did all the usual stuff and I had a little time to write some letters, which was sick. But I only had a little bit of time which was the pits because I didn’t get to write as many letters as I wanted to or needed to. I just need to be more disciplined and less distracted. I also should try to write around other missionaries. But point is a few of you lucky people got letters this week. They were short, but it felt good to write to you guys :). After the course of our pday events we went to dinner at the Shwenke family’s house. We made spring rolls there, which was super cool. It was fun, easy and ridiculously delicious. Then we had some more Hawaiian food. That night we met with one of our investigators and had a great lesson. His wife is a recent convert and she told her conversion story which was really, really great. We tried to involve their kids but it didn't work out too well. The three oldest boys are all members but are not interested hardly at all. One of them who used to be super active said to me in the middle of the lesson, "you say all that like it’s a fact, but it's only your opinion. You can’t really know those things." I don’t want to say that because he disagrees with me he is wrong, but it made me sad to hear him talk like that. Especially after talking with the Bishop about how active and involved he used to be.


Martes was Zone Training meeting. So we had 4ish hours of training from our zone leaders. From a non-missionary perspective it sounds really long and boring but it is actually awesome. I learned a lot as always and as always came away excited to be an even better missionary than I was before. Paying attention is important! Then we had a lesson with our strongest investigator, Norma. She's great. But she is struggling because her husband is holding her back. She wants to be baptized but she wants to do it as a family and her husband is dragging his feet. And from his friend in the church we found out a bunch more about why he is so ... passive. Sigh. Choose the right all the time even when it’s the harder thing to do. It will make you and your family happier. But the lesson was good. Everyone felt the spirit. Quick note about their daughter, they call her gordita and she is about 3 inches shy of being wider than she is tall. That night we had dinner with the Bishop of our Spanish ward. He is 29, 2 kids, a full time job and he's a bishop. That man works really, really, hard. Great guy. Oh freak! Tuesday night we met Hector. It was such an amazing experience. We were in a sketchier part of our area trying to talk to some former investigators because our area book is a mess. As we were walking we struck up conversation with a man getting into his car. He had a beer in one hand and a black and mild in the other. He was gruff, but surprisingly interested. So we talked. And talked. He swore a lot and was pissed about his life. He was sick of everything that was happening in his life. He had a friend a while back that "found Jesus" in prison. He said that before he had thought of God as the weak way out of things but now he says he thinks it’s the right way. I wanted to give him a huge hug. He deserved it. So we talked to him outside and then he invited us into his home and we taught him and his two young boys a lesson. When he came home they both ran to him and gave him hugs. He later explained to us that they always act like that when they see him because they never know when he will come home when he leaves. He told us last year he was in and out of prison and his kids hardly got to see him. He told us that he wanted to change the way his life was going to be better for them. Perfect ey? He was English so we had to refer him to other elders but my fingers are crossed and I pray so bad that he listens and does what the elders invite him to do. It will change his life, and his family's, forever. He needs it and those boys need him to have it. Ugh, I’ve gotta move on but it was a great lesson/contact.


Miercoles working backwards we tried to visit some less actives at night. Before that we visited the Jenk's family. It was bomb. We went to share a message with them and had a great time. We showed a clip of the district DVD and then they invited us to be a part of their family scripture study. It was bomb. Then we talked with Brother Jenks about the ward and he gave us referrals and people to talk to. He's the high priest group leader at 38 and is a sharp guy. And he has to be cause remember this is the English ward with all the heavy hitters: temple prez, patriarch, etc. Before that we went to have a lesson with a former investigator but she flaked so we talked with a member nearby. He was old and had dementia, which was really sad. When I shook his hand he grabbed it and held on and didn’t let go for more than 10 minutes. Elder Crespo had to save me by wiggling his fingers into the handshake and then the old man held his hand for even longer. We were there for about 50 minutes and one of us was holding the man’s hand the entire time. It was so sad, but he was so happy to have someone to talk to and it made me happy to be there for him. I couldn’t understand anything he said. It was like he was speaking a different language and for all I know he was. When he let go finally we left. For dinner we had a super simple.... rice beans and chicken but it was bomb. Before that we stopped in a random member’s house and the little boy was like following us around and saying "Elder! Elder! Elder!" It’s cute and flooring how much people look up to us. I never feel worthy. I am representing Jesus Christ. Wow. What a calling. I wish all missionaries understood what that meant. I don’t feel worthy of it sometimes, and the love of members and children? You'd think I was the Savior himself. It's great. But humbling.


Moving on. Jueves was a great day. We stopped in on some members and had a nice visit with them. The husband served in Michigan in ‘79 so we talked about home, which was cool to be able to connect with someone who loves the mitten as much as I do. We visited with the rest of the family and they were fun. It makes me happy when people like me. Even when I feel like I don’t deserve it. We had a lesson with one of our investigators. He always says he needs to be baptized, he just is scared. I think he said that verbatim. And he doesn’t really wanna commit. He's close, but the biggest hurdle is still ahead. Fear (the opposite of faith). His family needs him. We also did service and coordination so it was a fairly full day.

Viernes was Elder Mayo's "I’ve been 20 for a month now" day. Fun fact hahaa. We went to visit an investigator in our English ward and she dropped us, which was too bad. Then later we had a good talk with a Jehovah’s Witness, I learned a little more about what they believe. Good people. They might get more crap than we do though hahaha. Then as EC and I were leaving that lesson we saw the temple president and the patriarch crossing in front of the stake presidents house (They were both on walks with their wives. It was cute!). Pretty funny. That’s our English ward for you. Oh yeah and the temple was like right behind the house. Then we visited a less active member (later) who wants to go on a mission and is really excited about it. 
Sorry its short.

Sabado we returned the ridiculous amount of Christmas decorations that have been in our house. We had like lighthouses and trains and other crazy stuff. Like a tree and lights and all this stuff. But the member finally had time to open his garage for us. We had 2 lessons flake which was sad. Good member visit with a man in the Spanish ward and he told us a bunch of Spanish riddles and gave us referrals! For dinner we had pizza and stuff. I decided to put some guacamole on my piazza and it was delicious and next thing I knew all three of the little boys in the family were doing it too. The mom laughed and laughed and laughed. She said it reminded her of her mission when people would mimic her. (See above statement about feeling weird that people look to me so much.)

Domingo was the Sabbath. Great day, got to go to both wards.  We had a dinner with a family that has 13 foster kids at home right now. It was a party. Then we visited some people. Then we got together with a few other missionaries to practice a musical number. I am singing, again. They wanted me to do the solo but I'm too embarrassed to sing at zone conference tomorrow. Idk why they'd ask meee......
kkk that’s all the time I have
I love you all so much!!!!
Love,
Sam

sorry its short.

Monday, January 14, 2013

but if I had to perish twice...

Yesterday it was 24 degrees (not including the wind-chill). It was so cold and so dry but, the work goes one! (Although I get to drive a car, such a blessing). It's been hard to talk to people and find people to teach because no one is out and everyone is a little grumpier up here. I think I doubled my slammed doors and “it’s probably better if you don’t come back”s in just this week. BUT! I am still happy. I hope that is clear. It's been such a good week -full of growth, insight, fun, and everything else good. 

I'd like to start with a few snapshots of the city I live in.
--10:13 am. We are driving on a street mostly void of cars. It is bitter, bitter cold and there are only a few people on the street. Because of the slow speed limits I was able to look at them closely. The first was a very, very large man in a power chair. He had a dvd player attached to one of the arm rests and an umbrella attached to the back of his chair. On the other arm rest hung a 6 pack of beer, 5 in the plastic and one in his free hand. He got to a curb and I thought we were going to have to push him up it, but he stood up (quite slowly and clearly with more effort than he was used to exerting) and wobbled/hobbled around to push the chair up the little curb ramp. Then he waddled back to plop down in his chair and continue 'driving.' He was not the first person I have seen here like him. There are a bunch of people who ride around in these wheelchairs and don't get out of them all day. Many who I have seen walk. Like the man who drove his up to the store, parked the chair, locked it, and strolled on inside as if he had just gotten off his bike, or out of his car. I don’t quite know the whole situation for each of the many people who seem to be chair riding rather than chair ridden, but it is just an interesting part of Las Vegas that you don’t really get to see in the Oceans movies, or the commercials, or really anywhere else. 

--A few minutes after probably like 10:19 am. Same road further down, a homeless woman sitting on a half wall of a liquor store. Her shopping cart was full of all her temporal possessions and there were quite few. But there she was sitting on the wall with one of those 3 packs of 24oz beers, drinking away. It looked like she had already drunk one and was partway through the second. And it was only a few cold minutes after 10. I couldn't help but wonder how long she had been waiting to buy those beers and how long she would go without food because of them (these three and all the many that led up to her sitting in front of this liquor store in the middle of the winter.) 

-- And then right before turning on to the street where I am emailing now only another few minutes later, another woman, but this one much younger, maybe 25 at the oldest -barely old enough to be called a woman. She was hands free and clearly drunk. She was staggering across the sidewalk. I'm not sure if she was still drunk from yesterday, or she has already finished her morning dose. But as we drove past we watched her empty the contents of her stomach all over the sidewalk. Much like me in Mexico (what feels like a lifetime ago). It was gross and sad. 

I have tried my hardest not to pass judgments, and have succeeded surprisingly well in relation to how judgmental I was just a few months ago, but these three are only a few of the hundreds I have seen that make me think. It's a sad,sad city that I live in, and I am so blessed to have things in my life that make me happy. One of which being here helping people change their lives and change their path away from the liquor store's of the future, or bring them back to where it is warm. One of the hardest things about serving the Lord, (I think I mentioned this earlier) is being rejected. Not because it hurts my feelings, but because for most of the people we talk to it is easy to see that they are not happy, that something is missing. I love the people I serve and the ones who won’t let me and I want all of them to be happy and when they don’t want to be, refuse to be, or don't try to change the things in their lives (that even they know are wrong), it saddens me.

Okay, I have a lot of feelings about this place and I hope I don't sound self-righteous or overbearing or ignorant (although I do recognize that I am in many ways) or anything at all like that. Grrrr. Words never get out the feelings I want to express. kk. Moving on. 

ERIN! I am sending you a letter later today but congrats on the mission call! I am soooooo excited for you! You will do wonderful things and your testimony of the Savior and service will be invaluable. 
To the rest of you who wrote me, thank you so much. I have a nice big chunk of time to respond to all of you today. Hopefully I get to you all..... *sigh* I'm not very good at all this.

Moving on again, my week! What a great one. I met some amazing people this week. 
Monday! I emailed you guys, which was awesome :)! Pdays are very different here in Sunrise. Everyone gets together at about 2:30 and we all play sports together until 5. I was not prepared nor expecting that, but it was good to get a good 2.5 hours! of exercise. I wish I could tell you that I wasn't sore, but I was. No matter how many push-ups, curls, and sit-ups I do, nothing is like lots of running when you haven't for a while... After that we went to the Schweke's house. A German Hawaiian family,super nice, but struggling with activity right now. The whole family wants to be active and wants to be stronger in the church but they are just not as committed as they need to be. That's what they said. So props to them for recognizing. Insert of Elder Anderson preaching -- I think that if you are going to do something, and I have been learning this for a while and learned it the hard way too, and am still learning it, you have to be committed. Half way is practically worthless, and multitasking will just leave you unfulfilled. Go big or go home, get in or get out. Recognizing where we lack full commitment, in whatever it may be, can help us to re-prioritize and reorganize our lives and days to evict the things that we don’t actually care about to then have and give proper attention to the things that do matter. Idk. I'll be better able to explain, as I better apply and understand this myself. Sorry for being longwinded... --. Shwenke's. So we ate dinner there and it was really goood. I have had a surprising amount of Hawaiian food here in Vegas but I think this was my favorite. And it was simple, chicken and rice and potatoes. I had to sit with my back to the TV because the national championship was going on. Interesting how some things I cared about before the mission are not really even part of my thoughts and other things ... are now a temptation. I hate to say it, but I wanted to watch that game really bad, even though Notre Dame got killed... ;). But I sat with my back to the TV and got to talk to them in between whoops and hollers and screams and a lot of pretty hard hits among the family members! They were so sweet and nice. Brother S. told us about 10 times, that the house was ours, take off your shoes and coat and get comfortable, "the only rule here is be yourself." Comforting. And sorry to be all faux-intellectual, enlightening. I realized that sometimes I don’t act totally myself. I may be schizophrenic but that is no excuse to be super serious and boring and distant when talking to people I love about things I love. I am usually pretty good about it but when around the AP's or stake presidents I usually think and act differently. Well now I'm rethinking what I said earlier, because the way I treat a 4 year old should be different than the way I treat the stake president... should it? ughhh. Okay moving on, sorry. Later that night we went to visit a recent convert in our area who might switch to a different ward because it is tough for him to understand the Spanish gospel terms. And I don’t blame him. He was taught in English and there aren’t many cognates for church words. We had a great visit and he shared with us his conversion to the gospel. It came because he saw that 2 brothers at his work were very different from the other guys he works with. He said they were happier and more driven. So when he asked why, they sent the missionaries over and shortly he got baptized. To all members of the church, people watch you. You've heard that before, but (if you are living how the Lord wants you to) people really do watch and pay attention to what you do. 
FREAK! I've got to write 6 more days in like 5 minutes. I'm a turd. 

Tuesday we met the stake patriarch and his wife. They are cool, cool people. Apparently she is tight with Pat. Like Pat Holland.... jealous hahahaha. They told a bunch of stories about 'Pat and Jeff'. Then we visited a member and we were talking to him (a widower) about his Christmas and he said he didn’t celebrate. Of course that threw me off and we asked why not and he said because I have nothing to celebrate. That broke my heart. If you don’t understand why what he said is sad... well I'll explain later. There is so much to be happy about, and one of those things would because of Jesus (whose birth we celebrate on Christmas) we can live with our families forever. He was suuuuper lonely.
Ahhhh!!!!  oh yeah. JSH [Joseph Smith History] 1:24-26 is bomb.
Then we saw a dog sized goldfish.... it was huge. Then we talked about baptism with one of our investigators and she doesn’t want to be baptized because she wants to do it with her husband but he is dragging his feet. So more info on that later. 

Wednesday we ate with the temple president. So naturally we talked about the temple and food! It was good and we learned a lot. They were sooo, so nice and their daughter married the young guy (now a man) from the restoration movie. Then we had a lesson with another guy who wants to be baptized to be an example for his sons but he's been struggling with drinking and he works too much to come to church and meet with us. Then we taught English class! That was a cool experience. Soooo cool.

Thursday: taught English class, did service for an old family, taught a less active family. I have to write about them. He was a movie producer big time in London like 24 years ago. She! is an ex model and her mom was a Japanese movie star and model... she showed us a few pictures of her mom but I had to close my eyes after the first one. You will find pornography in the weirdest places here, not that she was trying to be evil or anything but models are hired for specific reasons. She told us a lot of stories of her traveling around the world. Cooool stuff. 

Friday: great day.
Saturday: great day. 
Sunday: great day. Got to take the sacrament and be a little better for next week. We had dinner with a Spanish member and he was showing us his iphone and all the cool tricks it can do.... I feel like a caveman who just stepped out of the time machine. So that's it.
ahhh!!! sorry!!!
I love you all so much.
Sam

Monday, January 7, 2013

Sup peeps from here looking at the temple

Spelling is gonna be bad today, weird  keyboard and no time. 
I kinda of feel like I'm back at home. I can look out the window and see the temple. I'm emailing you from like half way up the mountain in little Utah. Like legiiiiit.

So I am here in the Sunrise Stake just a little bit north east of where I was before. For a frame of reference for those of you who use google maps and such websites, I am like at Mount Hood and Lake Mead. It's crazy. It’s like 10 miles from my old area and it’s like 10 times nicer. There ain't no ghetto up here. This part of the valley was settled by Mormons shortly after the announcement of the temple. So that's pretty cool, if you like that kind of stuff. But for me and my house, I think it's awesome. 

Quick profile on Elder Crespo: He is 26 years old and is from Puerto Rico. He has been out a transfer (6 weeks) longer than Elder Bennett. He is super smart and has a lot of insights about the scriptures and loves deep doctrines. So I hope to learn a lot from him, in the ways of missionary work, discipleship and of doctrinal points as well.  Elder Talmage left this morning at 5:50 am for Mexico. I am going to miss him a lot. He and I got super close in our 4 weeks together. He's def someone I want to see when I get home. He and I got along really well and worked well together too. All around fun times. 

All right, so I'll give you the ward run down. Los Feliz is the name of my Spanish ward and it is super nice. All the Hispanics that live up around here are much more wealthy than those that lived in Central. Poverty often brings an unparalleled level of humility but here, where fighting for jobs and such is not quite as important, there is a slightly different spirit. Here the ward is very, very strong and the members are so wonderful. It’s so cool on a fast and testimony meeting to see the members literally lining up to bear their testimonies. It makes me realize that I should be sharing mine more often as well. So I really, really like that ward. And now for the Morning Sun ward. I can’t really describe it. The ward, someone told me, is the smallest geographical boundary outside of Utah. It is 2 blocks. Which blew. my. mind. And the people that live in the ward are the ones who want to be as close to the temple as they can. The stake president is in our ward, the temple president and one of his counselors are in the ward, there are a bunch of ex-general authorities and a bunch of ex-stake presidents and the patriarch, and another patriarch lives in the ward. It's crazy. The neighborhood literally feels different when you go in. Maybe because it is right by the temple but all the people there have such a special spirit about them. Ugh. I will just have to bring all of you to the ward so you can see and feel it. It is just like a ward in Utah. Everyone in the neighborhood knows each other, and if they aren’t members they know all about the church (which makes our job a little harder without people to teach...). We spend most of the time visiting members and finding the less active families and those in the ward that need help. But with activity over 80% the bishopric gave us a list of people to not visit because they hate missionaries. Kind of scary to think about, hating people that love you and want to help you. Well at least that's me. :). I guess I can give you the rundown of the last week like I usually do. It's hard though because so much has happened. So much. Sadly some of the wonderful things will and have slipped my memory and even more won’t make it into the email. 

Without further introduction: Monday!! Monday was last year, that's crazy. Elder Bennett and Shreve and Taetakua needed stuff from the outlet mall (they usually do) so I decided I'd go check it out with them because I wanted to spend time with them. It was crazy. Coming from the ghetto to that place was such a shock. People from all around the world wearing very little clothing because they could afford to and not because they couldn’t afford not to. Oh the irony. There were people from Japan and China and Russia and Brazil and France and Australia (I tried talking to people as the 3 of them tried on clothes and stuff). It was cray. There was such a high percentage of people visiting Vegas from China that a lot of the signs had Chinese translation. Interestingly no Spanish... (commonplace down on 28th street). Most of the people were taxied from the strip to the malls and back so the majority of them probably never saw what Las Vegas really is (well at least as I see it). It is just a big city with lots of lights were it is easy to spend a lot of money, very quickly. Two different times store workers criticized me about my outfit choice. It was like some fancy store and I walked in and an elfish looking man with jeans so tight they must have been double zeros (I don’t think they make guy pants that tight. They had to have been women’s) says "oh so you must be here for shirts and shoes." Granted, I would have loved some of the shirts they were selling and a new pair of $435 kicks wouldn’t be bad, but I aight made o money. I let him show me all the shoes and shirts as the other Elders bought stuff and in my head I was laughing the whole time. I couldn’t imagine myself ever dressing as nice as he was recommending. But he was just doing his job and a good one too. I got a lot of tips from him that I can use even with my low budget, decent fitting outfit.  This is boring to write about. Ask me when I get home and I'll tell you other funny things that happened. Highlights being - "if you don’t retie that tie, I'm going to come over there and do it for you!" and - "I didn’t know Jehovah's Witnesses could wear white." People are funny. Monday was mostly shopping and then we couldn’t go out that night because it was too dangerous so I got to pack and study. The whole spectrum of my favorite things to do. ;)

Tuesday.  We did our studies and that stuff.  For lunch E'B. and I made a macaroni and cheese pizza and a bbq chicken pizza. They were bomb. Cilantro is like my favorite thing on the planet. Then we went to the temple to take pictures for the English district. It was closed but the security guard let us in because he said he loves missionaries. Nice guy. That took up wayyyy more time than I wanted it too so we were definitely crippled in our proselyting abilities. My final dinner was ham and Mexican cheese quesadillas. Funny in a weird way. That night we went and visited all the people that we will miss but we set out with big plans for a lot of short visits which ended up being a few very long visits. I wish I would have had time to see everyone, but I will be back one way or another. I started packing Tuesday night... I have so many books. Yay!

Wednesday was a bittersweet day. Hard in some ways and easy in others. I would have stayed in Central for forever if that was what I was asked to do but I was excited to have a new excitement and to see my good buddy Elder Talma-hay. Going to transfer conference on Wednesday was so odd. I served around Sister Fine and Elder Hardy who both were leaving. Sister Fine had been in my zone for 3 transfers, so I knew a lot about her. Elder Hardy was one of my first zone leaders, with Elder Nonu. Now they are at home. With their families and doing whatever it is that normal people do. Unlucky them! It was my first shock that the mission will eventually end. I'm not waiting or dreading for it to, in fact I don’t really even think about it. Those who do, don’t really do very much. But transfers were cool, to see a bunch of missionaries together and a little hard to say goodbye to my district. I'll miss them. BUT! I met my new companion, Elder Crespo! Which was cool to have that chance to meet and serve with a new person with different focuses and strengths and I am excited to learn a lot from him. On the way home from transfers we got stuck in traffic so we sat with the zone leaders for 2 hours just talking so it was nice to hit the relationship ground running. The ZL's here are Elder Debois and Kerr. I have had a good bit of contact with them before so we were already friendly but now, we are like besties! (not quite, but close.) Oh snap. Then we got to the apartment. It is huge. I think it is literally bigger than our house back in Michigan. It is 2 full bathrooms and 2 bedrooms, and a walk in closet, and living room space for 2 couches and 2 armchairs, and a fire place and a coffee table, and dining room table and 2 chandeliers. It’s super duper weird. I think I got a house so big because I don’t care at all. It doesn’t matter one bit to me, like I am thankful to have such a blessing, but I would honestly rather have the small place. I don’t mean to sound ungrateful for the sacrifice... Idk. I hope you peeps understand. I love it, but I don’t need it at all. (Some missionaries do, and can’t handle little roach infested holes in the wall with black widows, but I don’t care.) So that's my theory. Since I don’t whine about my little house I get a big one. The appt is so big. I will send pictures of it next week. It’s crazy. Since Talmage has only been here for 2 weeks he is practically clueless as well so planning was tough because this is practically a double transfer in. The elder before had been here for 6 months so he knew everything. And we have to build everything from the ground up. Which is cool to be able to have an almost clean slate, the problem is we don’t know where to start painting yet. 

Freak. I always write too slow. Thursday! Morning Sports. Lifting. Shower. Breakfast. Organize. Read a Talk. Personal Study. Companionship Study. District Meeting. The new district is pretty cool. Elder Martinez is the District leader and his companion is Elder Alvarez. Then it is Elder Crespo and me and finally Sister Burrup and Sister Nieto. If you notice 4 of the 6 have Spanish names, 4/6 are natives and Sister Burrup used to live in Mexico. So I am by far the most guero of the group. Good practice but it’s hard to keep up. District Lunch. Coordination with the English ward mission leader. He did know how to help us and he's super sick so he couldn’t really remember what has been going on either. Then we started visiting the members around him. They were all so cool. One sister saw that my suit needed a little fix and wouldn’t let me leave without her fixing it! OH yeah. We have a car. Which is so weird. I actually liked bikes more... I am such a whiner hahaha. But the area is huge so we'd die on bikes. We met a lot of the cool people and the one English ward investigator and then we had Spanish ward coordination which was ridiculously effective. Like using thunderbolt on a gyrados. Super effective. It was incredible to see how well the ward mission leader works with the bishop and ward council. Los Feliz is a well run ward. From what I have heard about Spanish wards, it seems like the best. I'm so lucky :) :) :). 

Friday was weekly planning. And we actually planned! It was super awesome. Kind of boring but very helpful. We visited a member later that day and I saw a clone trooper lego on the table and I picked it up and fake shot one of the kids with it and he ran into his room. I thought I had made him sad, but then he brought all his legos out and wanted me to play with him. It made me super happy. I would have loved to sit and built things with him all afternoon. But sadly there is no time to be 9 years old again. I guess that's why being a dad is cool. Our last visit was super bomb. We visited a family and talked for a long time about Spanish and missions. They spoke fluent English but were both from Argentina. Ahhh, I liked talking to them. I wish I had time to talk about them. She works with disabled children and shared a lot of insights with us about children with disability. I wrote a lot of them down. Ask me when I get home. One member we visited had 4 beared dragons. That was cool.

Saturday we had breakfast with the stake president. He is super young. Like has a kid that is 9 years old. But he is super funny but a great guy. We only talked with him for like an hour but I could just tell that he was bomb. AHHH NO TIME!!! Super spiritual guy. We visited the Spanish Elder’s quorum president and he literally pulled out his phone when he saw us and gave us a huge list of referrals. I don’t think he'd been visited for a very long time. He also tried to feed us but we had dinner soon. So we compromised and ate cake and horchata. We visited a lot of members. Hopefully later I will be able to tell you about all the awesome people I’ve met.

Sunday was great too! Crazy how every day is amazing. We went to sacrament meetings which rocked. It was cool to hear so many testimonies in one day. Then we met Tony Stark, the English Elder’s quorum president. Cool guy. No suit, though - bummer. Dinner was with the father of 2 mission presidents and an emeritus General Authority. He had sooo many stories..."So I was eating with Bruce one day ....." referring to Bruce R. McConkie. Craziness.

Ahhh!!!! That's all the time I have!
I love you all soooo much.
<3
Sam