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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

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