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.
I love you all soooo much.