Dear Family and Friends,
I turn 5 months in two days. Time flies.
That poorly exposed picture is of my Yuma district before transfers. 3 of those 8 are gone. From left to right, they are: Elder Sawyer, Elder Boyd, Elder Berriman, Elder Johnson (Me), Elder Lanier, Elder Mackay, Sister Drake, Sister Thompson. Elder Boyd got called to Show Low and I heard that in transfer meeting, when he heard it, he got up and started singing, "I'm dreaming of a white christmas" until President Howes told him to stop. Sad I missed it!
Transfers were this past week. Because every companionship in Yuma went through a change, 6 of the 8 missionaries had to go to transfer meetings in Tempe. As a result, Elder Mackay and I were the only ones who stayed in Yuma. We covered the entire stake for the day. The only missionaries in all of Yuma (Yuma to Heider). But that was just for like 8 hours. Because we had no lessons set up that day and the entire district was gone, the Zone Leaders challenged us to get 80 OYMs, or 80 street contacts. We accepted that challenge. And did it. It was ridiculous haha. Every. single. person we saw we talked to. We only got like 3 lessons out of it too. And since that was the end of the month of November, we had only 20 miles left in the car so we walked all day. By all day I mean from 8am to 6pm. By the end we easily had walked over 10 miles. Anyway, the zone leaders now owe each of us a tub of bluebell ice cream. I'm going to cash in for some Dutch Chocolate. That stuff is heavenly.
All the new missionaries and the returning one from training meetings got back at 6pm that night. My new companion is Elder Valdez. He's from Quintana Roo, Mexico, just below Cancun. He has only been speaking English for as long as he has been on his mission which is 8 months. We're a pretty young companionship. There are only 3 native speaking missionaries in the mission so I got lucky. My Spanish is going to get really good this transfer and his English is going to get better too. We're trying to only speak our mission language so he speaking English, me speaking only Spanish. The language barrier has presented some interesting problems so we're working through that. Our month baptism goal is 3.
And that goal got off to an unfortunate start. We had one baptism on date for the 1st of December but due to Word of Wisdom problems got pushed back. Hopefully we can get him excited again and get him on date for next week or the following.
And we had one investigator who wasn't progressing but now will absolutely not be progressing for at least 8 years. Let's just say a gun and 12 bullets were involved. No one died (I think). He got bailed out and came to church though!.....People were coming up to us and telling us about it at church. Since we get no access to the news, we had no idea.
Elder Valdez and my first night out turned a little intense. We went to talk to this guy who came over and just starting calling us out for every single thing you can imagine. He was a super scriptorian and before we decided to leave he said, "and next time you guys come back, memorize more scriptures!" I wanted to say that it's not about having memorized scriptures, it's about how you feel and act. He went on about how we need to celebrate passover and how the 2nd coming was in 1948. I read to him the one part of (book of) Revelation that I actually understand about the two prophets being killed and he couldn't respond. Bible bashing doesn't get you anywhere though so we just bore testimony and left. Nothing else you can do to in that scenario.
As I said last week, I got transferred a couple blocks away and out of my sweet old apartment. The one we're living in now is worse. Way worse. Half the size, really dirty, and missing lots of things. Even our door is broken. The apartment office said it would be $125 to fix it and the mission OK'd it so all we need to do is let the apartment complex know it's ok'd.
This has been a pretty stressful week. Since there are now 6 Spanish missionaries in the Spanish branch (compared to the previous 4), we had to split the areas. The zone leaders got all my old investigators and I got a new ward. So this transfer I'm 1/2 white washing. A new Spanish area, a new English ward, and the same other English ward. I don't cover the YSA branch anymore. But it has been hard to start from scratch (again) and try to build it up. Hopefully we can have as much success as I did last transfer with Sawyer.
Speaking of the YSA branch...drama! At Church yesterday, we were studying in the foyer and saw the branch president's wife run out of the chapel and grab the branch president and rush him inside. They looked pretty scared. So naturally I followed them. One of the members was non-responsive and looked like he was passed out. A couple of seconds later, he just collapsed. Chaos. His fiance's nose started bleeding and she fainted from fear. The member who was non-responsive was out for 1-3 minutes. I think the only way he could have been safer would to have been in a hospital. Eight marines, 2 EMTs, and a nurse are in the YSA branch. Not to mention a doctor was in the hallway. The firetruck/ambulance showed up and got him conscious again after a bit. It had happened to him 3 times before. He didn't want to go to the hospital for certain reasons but they eventually convinced him. As the EMTs walked out, one of the members said, "and you guys thought you weren't going to church today!" That relieved a lot of the built up stress haha.
Saw another meteor this week! Not half the size or the coolness of the last one but it was pretty cool. They're pretty easy to see when there are no clouds or trees.
We met a man this week who started anti-ing us the second we said hi. Before we left, he said, "you guys are just a little cooler than Jehovah's Witnesses." I guess the people here don't really like them. Or us.
Polyester ties were banned this week. President Howes said missionaries were getting out of control with the styling. So sad. Now I have 60 ties that I can't wear. If I can find a box I'll probably be sending 1-2 boxes of ties home. There are some sweet ones and some hideous ones. Get excited. It mostly just affected the Spanish missionaries since for some reason Spanish missionaries tend to wear more polys than English missionaries.
I got a tiwi card! AKA I have permission to drive. Since Elder Valdez is from Mexico, his home license isn't recognized. We drive a 2011 Corolla. I have to stoop waaaayyy down to get into it. Not a huge fan but it gets sweet gas mileage. It's no swaggerwagon though. The first day in it I accidentally sat on my sunglasses and broke them. Bien triste [very sad].
We had a pretty cool experience yesterday with an OYM. We were walking down a street and I felt like we should knock on a door. No one answered. We turned around and saw a family sitting on their "yard" (it was all dirt.) so we went and talked to them. Turns out they're all really really interested in family history. They're going to the family history center at the church building this week. Hopefully they'll start listening to us and learn about the church
So the week after I get transferred out of my old area, that family we were teaching decide to get baptized. Ahhjhhhhh. At least I'll still be in Yuma to see it. Apparently they kept asking Elder Sawyer why we got split up and if it happened because we did something wrong. [If you're not aware, missionaries regularly receive transfers to work in different areas or with different missionaries. Just part of the mission culture]. Good times.
I was reading a bit about resurrection this morning. Christ was the very first one to get resurrected, right? He, obviously, had lots of faith! It's kind of like someone telling you to jump off a cliff and saying you won't get hurt. You do it because you trust the person, but the fall down would be terrifying. I had never really thought about it like that before.
What causes languages to change over time?
Thanks Camie, Sister Hines, Alex, Sister Christensen, Cassie, and family for the letters this week! Awesome to hear from all of you!
Love you all so much, merry almost Christmas,