Monday, October 8, 2012

8 October 2012

Dear Family and Friends,

Since this is the last week of transfers, I will know next Monday if I am staying or not, but informing all of you via this letter will mean some letters will go to my old address, assuming I'm leaving.

I hope I stay. But it is starting to seem like our Zone Leaders will get white washed out. Their work has stalled, one is going home, and they are English missionaries in a predominately Spanish area. As I learned this week, 54% of Yuma is Latino but 75% speak Spanish. So we will see. And if that happens, it is very likely that Elder Sawyer, my companion, will be a new Zone Leader. That means I will likely either leave Yuma, or be white washed again into the new area they are rumored to be opening in Yuma down in Somerton, close to the border. I hope I stay with him, he's a beast.

Quick request: we have a Christian Belief Comparison Chart in our house but it is very outdated. Can anyone find a new one and send it to me? Ours has ~10 major religions and their beliefs on things like the God head, pre-earth life, post mortal etc etc. I'd love to be able to study an updated one.

I ate a Chil Pequin this week. I'm not sure how you spell it, either that or Chil de Pin. Either way, it was a big mistake. My mouth has never hurt so bad. We were eating at the Branch President's house and he took a video of it. Elder Sawyer and the Hermanas all ate one with me. Sawyer was stoic and emotionless as he destroyed it. Hermana Drake said it was hot. Hermana Thompson said it hurt and drank 2 glasses of water. My nose started running, I couldn't breath, I drank 6 cups of agua and basically died. Next step: Habanero. Presidente Dominguez and his family were dying with laughter. I will try to get the video and send it home today. I need to see it first and say if I approve it or not haha. Miserable, it was!

We have three investigators on date now! For one of our lessons, we were planning on teaching the Plan of Salvation (why we are here, where from, where going) but we found that somehow our investigator already knew it. He had never spoken to missionaries before. He has read to Alma 60 in three weeks. What a beast. He taught it to us. El agua esta listo.

Grandpa Johnson, I remember you talking a lot about hummingbirds. How does one make a homemade feeder? We have a few in our backyard area and it would be cool to hang one from our balcony.

How have the Presidential polls been going? I have heard a lot from members. More on that in a bit. Either way, I have officially voted as of yesterday via absentee ballot. Got my "I voted" sticker and everything! I've been pushing missionaries to register and to vote for whomever they wish.

This week I realized how flawed my trick to understand Spanish was. What I try to do when someone is speaking at a rapid-fire pace is to look at their eyes and read their emotions. As a result, I can laugh when they laugh and be sorry when they are. This week I tried that. And it failed. One woman was telling me about something I couldnt understand and I saw her eyes curl a bit so I laughed, assuming she was telling a joke. Little did I know she was talking about a family member being sent to the hospital. Yeah, probably won't do that one again.

We were teaching one of our investigators this week who has been through a lot. Crazy lot. Her good member friends were there too and one piped in, "You have been through a lot of changes recently. And you're sick of them! But don't forget to leave room for the good changes!" It was insightful and reassuring to her as she struggled with overcoming an addiction to smoking. She is on date to be baptized, lets hope that she can resist the urge to smoke. She gave us all her cigarettes and lighters. Once in the car, I jokingly held one in my hand and got a very curious look from a different member. In retrospect, that was probably a bad idea but it was a good laugh. We crushed them and threw them away.

I passed my one-month-in-the-field-versary the other day on the 5th. That marks 3 months in the mission. Elder Heathcote likes to say, "you're never going home!" I am very happy here but sometimes that seems like truth. I'm taking two years out of my life and everyone else is flying on with theirs. I'm missing great vacations, the return of Mark, Roland, Ian, and other good friends, and it feels like getting left behind sometimes. But that's ok because I'm happy, it's just a weird feeling.

I don't know if I have mentioned it before, but we are situated right near the Yuma Proving Grounds area and the Marine Air base down here. We see a lot of cool planes flying around. I'll throw some pictures in in a bit.

I have mentioned before that it rains when I come and leave places. The last two days have been cloudy, I hope it doesn't rain, because that will foreshadow my departure from Yuma. I'm staying whether President likes it or not!

A brand new chapel opened up recently in Foothills. Last week we gave tours through it. As you will remember a couple weeks ago, when on exchanges in Foothills, we ate dinner with a crazy lady who is not LDS. Well, she was there that night. But this time, instead of talking about the crazy things she has done to her disobedient daughter, she spoke about politics. Twenty minutes she went on about it. Twenty. Pure torture. She spoke about the debate and how, well, to spare details, Romney destroyed Obama etc etc. Ward members started gathering nearby. I didn't say anything. She told of one instance where Al Gore was defending Obama's poor performance by saying that, 'the elevation affected his mind.' One of the ward members chipped in, "It's probably all that global warming getting to his head!" All the ward members laughed, I cried. Not really, but inside I did. After that I decided it was time for no more so I spoke on how the church is politically neutral and how impressive that is etc. It ended the conversation.

You know, I have no tolerance for ignorance. There is no excuse when we live in a time when we can pull out our cell phones and learn the equations that support the existence of a black hole or learn how to estimate the mass of a star millions of light-years away. I can understand if you're from terribly impoverished conditions, but there is so much information out there to be had. Use it! I also understand and respect opinions, as I have many, but that is exactly that: an opinion. Respect those who differ, challenge those who disagree. We as a people (humanity) are terribly close minded. We don't like to be wrong. We don't like to admit fault or yield. But it is that very attitude that makes us imperfect and flawed.


When I was watching conference yesterday and Saturday, I thought that you all would be watching it at the same time as I and see the same things. Then I remembered that it was probably ten minutes behind from having to pause so much for...various things haha [This made me (Rene) laugh and laugh. . . so true.  We were about 10 minutes behind the actual broadcast because of. . . various things. . . pausing for boys to get settled.]

Mark, do you remember an old TV/Movie we used to watch way back when with two frogs as the main characters? One blue, one green/brown? Or maybe the other way around? Either way, I can't remember what it was called. I think they wore top hats? 

Faith dining is hard in Yuma. Apparently in the valley you can go to a restaurant and since there are so many members, they often volunteer to buy your food. Super nice. I've never tried it nor plan on it, but one Elder was telling me that he went to Olive Garden, ordered his food, and when he remembered that there were not as many members here in Yuma, he realized he had to buy his own meal. The idea is hilarious but it's a tad...I don't know, just weird.

Last night I celebrated my first P-Day Eve. We went over to a members house that wasn't in our ward with 6 of the missionaries in Yuma and had "Twice cream." Actually, we never had twice cream, but we did have ice cream! Bluebell, too! They had a walk in fridge. Yeah, that's right, a walk in fridge. And probably 6 cartons of Bluebell ice cream. It was a good time. What twice cream is, is, if I remember, bluebell with extra milk frozen into it? Apparently it's heavenly. We ate too much last night to have space for it. Next week, though!

I took General Conference notes on a post-it card. Here they are, unorganized:

  • 18 and 19 year old missionaries now, sweet! I'm the last of this generation of 19 yr old Elders
  • Tuscon and Arequipa temples! How ironic that those are where/near Mark and I serve(d)
  • "Ask the missionaries!"
  • "Life isn't meant to be just appreciated in retrospect."
  • "There is something in every day to appreciate."
  • "Perhaps we should be looking more with our hearts than our eyes."
  • Many of the deepest sorrows of tomorrow can be avoided by Faith in Christ
  • Do better. Be better. Become better.
  • "I pray that we do not wait until we are about to die to learn to live."
  • Allowance! Prophet endorsed!
  • Service is the definition of pure religion
  • A man never stands taller than when on his knees
  • Blue Angels flight for Uchtdorf?! Ahhhh
  • "We must be able to see men, not as they are, but as what they can become."
  • God is never hidden, but sometimes, we are.
  • As we serve, we become like Him
  • "Feed my sheep" = why are you back here where you used to be?!
  • The crowning characteristic of love is always loyalty
  • Take an inventory of your blessings!
  • The more we act upon spiritual impressions, the more we get
  • The lord is in the details of our lives
  • A testimony is a personal knowledge of truck received through revelation.

Conference was pretty good.

Who invented freeze dried food? 
What causes contrails?
Why do mountains in Arizona pop out of nowhere? Plains then suddenly a huge chimney.

Than you Doug, Cassie, Tori, Natalia, Mom, Eric, Will (I got two weeks of letters from you, one from Sep 8), Sister Hines, and Katie. I hope hope hope I'll have time to write everyone today but we are going out and giving blessings at the hospital this morning then a goodbye for Elder Proskine. His last P Day today.

Love you all so much, thanks for the continued support!
What causes ink to flow out of pens? A vacuum?
How do you make rice on a stove?!

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