Dear family and friends,
Well, I'm a Facebook missionary now! Friend me @ https://www.facebook.com/
As a disclaimer, I'm there to do missionary work, send inspiring
messages, and things along that line, not to catch up on old times. We
get one hour of designated "internet proselytizing time" and then
throughout the day for a few minutes at a time)
Yeah that's still kind of weird to say. I'm serving in Mesa too with Elder Harder, the companion I had for five days in Tempe before I got emergency transferred. Obviously we were meant to be together. I was excited to be with him again. He's a great missionary and you'd never expect he will be home in 5 weeks.
We had a cool experience last week. They put three companionships in the Ray 5th Spanish ward where I was the last three months. So they had to re-draw the boundaries to make it fit. We sat down with the zone leaders over there and looked some lines over and nothing seemed to fit. I offered a prayer and immediately the boundaries came to my mind and it made everyone happy. It was cool to see an answer to a prayer so quickly and so precisely.
To be more specific on my new area. This is my new address: 922 S. Longmore #109, Mesa, AZ 85202. Use it lots!
We cover two wards: the legendary Liahona 5th ward that baptized over 200 people in three years and the Kleinman Park English ward. Both wards are excellent and we're really excited to work in them. We have great potentials in both wards.
The members are all used to the iPads and iPhone 5s that we use. They've been in use in our mission for three months. There are only 100 iPads in the world being used and we are two of them. They call us pioneers of the digital age of missionary work.
So, to explain what that means...
Each companionship has two iPad minis and one iPhone 5. They are all synced together meaning that all notes are auto synced, etc. They each have an Area Book application. Inside that is a record of who has been taught and who is being taught as well as addresses. Planning is way easy because there is an option to "find people nearby" and it gives you everyone in a certain area.
I missed Siri. We've been reunited!
We have access to ward lists, callings, and more information. Staying in contact with members has never been easier. Facebook only makes that easier. Coordinating events, contacting investigators, sharing little status updates... It really is totally different. For example a lesson was taught last week to someone in France over Skype. Basic principles were taught and she was then referred to the local missionaries.
The sky is the limit.
There are some faults with it, clunky area book app, not being able to schedule reoccurring events, no access to LDS Tools app (we have a special one that is worse). They are really good at implementing our recommendations though!
Since the program is so new, we are writing the rule book. A new "white bible," or "white handbook" is coming out in the new future with updated rules. Salt Lake is in constant contact with us seeking input on features, wanted features, etc. It's a really really cool experience.
Since there are no real written rules (except filter everything to our purpose), we got together as a zone last week to make some ground rules about usage, specifically with the internet. The device is pretty well locked down but we established some baselines. I left kind of amazed at how a bunch of 18-24 year olds set self limits on electronic devices. We are different, I guess. I took notes of everything (on the iPad :)) and read it afterwards. President Toone looked at me and said, "will you be my executive secretary?? Those notes were great!" hahahaha
Transfers were this past week. The Phoenix zones have officially been incorporated into the Tempe mission. Every single companionship except like 5 in the mission were changed. There was some contention between mission pride at the start but it has died down. Hopefully that dies down since there's no reason for that. Having met a bunch of missionaries from the Phoenix mission at MTC I left with one conclusion: they're awesome. One of them spent the night with us and it was hilarious.
We drive a 2013 Chevy Cruze. It has a, ah, what's it called.... a semi-automatic gear box if I remember. It has a shifter but no pedal so I can drive around shifting how I please. It is a quick little car with really weird gear ratios but it's fun. I mean it gets us to and from appointments safely.
Mesa is pretty great. I love it. Last week we were driving past a Circle K and I suddenly saw someone on a BMX bike come FLYING around the corner. Then a woman went running out of the Circle K swearing and screaming, then an SUV went flying by, and then 6 or 7 guys sprinted out of the Circle K and chased the guy. He had just stolen her bike and we had seen it all! So naturally we put the car into chase mode and followed looking for the guy. He got into some apartment complex and disappeared unfortunately. Exciting moment!
The Mesa zone is a super "green" zone. 7 or the 9 companionships (excluding us) are training someone in their first 6 weeks. And that's why we're so excited - so much energy!
We heard a crazy border crossing story this week. Someone in the area was coming across with a group when border patrol showed up. This guy ran and ran and ran and found a pole that he climbed 10 feet up. Everyone in his group was caught except for him because border patrol never looked up.
For one of our dinners this week we ate tacos. Not just any kind of tacos, but cow head tacos and cow tongue tacos. The tongue tacos actually weren't too bad. The head tacos were slimy and greasy and soft. Those weren't my favorite. Grilled steak tacos (carne asada) takes the cake. You know you have a good Spanish area when two of your first three dinners are carne asada tacos!!
Last night we met an awesome guy on the street. The first thing he told us was that he was atheist and that he was a bad man. We assured him that he wasn't either of those things (haha) and had an inspiring lesson with him. By the end of it he had accepted a Book of Mormon, accepted a return appointment, and accepted a baptismal date for the 24th of August! We are really excited to work with him. He asked me to pray for his kids right there and he said he was at seven. I couldn't even remember three names so in the middle of the prayer he said their names and then I finished the sentence haah)
We are also teaching an angel of a woman. She's older and struggles with an addiction to smoking. She wants to get baptized so bad and loves church. We asked her what time she is most tempted to smoke and told her we'd be there to visit her. She said 6am so we set up a lesson for 6 am but she had to cancel last night unfortunately. It has been fun to see her see how much we love her and how much we want to help her. She says she is alone frequently and we told her we'll change that! She asked for a calling in the church because she wants to serve everyone. More on this in the coming weeks!
Last night I set the other Elders' alarm for 6:02 am without them knowing. Well, that prank backfired and I was the only one to hear it and when it went off I thought it was 6:30 so I got up and started getting ready to exercise then realized it was 6:09 and flopped back on bed. Not doing that one again...
I traded two ties this past week for a silver Skagen watch. Score!
Thanks Andra, Tanan, Eric, Will, Mom, and Dad for the letters this week!
I got a phone call this morning from my old area saying the 6 people I left on date with Elder Diaz are still on date. Made my day.
Anyway, I'm really excited to be where I am with whom I'm with. This is a great area and the technology pilot program just makes everything more exciting!
Thank you all for your continued support!