Greeting from Ohio! It has been a pretty crazy week and a half since I emailed last, so I'll dive right in to everything!
First off, let me give you a rundown on what happened last Wednesday, the day of departure! We got up at 3 am to take Elder Maughan to the shuttle stop. After that we came back and got everything ready to leave, then went back down to the shuttle stop at 5:30 when our bus was supposed to leave. We saw a bus leave at about 5:20, but we didn't think that it was ours because they had usually been coming a little late. Anyways, after an hour and half of waiting, a bus finally came for us at 7! They told us the driver had gotten mixed up and had left without us! So we dropped off some Elders and Sisters at the Salt Lake Central mission home in Murray, and then rushed to the airport. It was cool getting to be back in the real world again! I had a whole bunch of people at the airport ask me where I was going and wish me luck too! Well, we finally made it through security, and that was when I got to call you guys! That was so great and I'm so glad I got to hear all of you again. I really enjoyed all the stories you told me over the phone, and I'm sorry if I kind of had to rush off the phone, but our flight was boarding...
On the plane I was hoping to sit next to a nonmember so we could talk about the gospel, but there were about 30 missionaries on the plane, so I ended up sitting between two of them. So no contacting was done on that flight... (Sorry Hermana Osborn). We got to Cincinnati, and got a whole bunch of stares in the airport. We got interviewed by a news crew doing a piece about how on the 24th of July the Mormons had entered the Salt Lake Valley, and on this 24th of July, 30 of them were coming back to Ohio. It was actually pretty cool, and now we're all famous! After that, we loaded everything up and drove to the mission home. We had a dinner cooked by Sister Porter, and then we had a Q&A session with the assistants while President Porter was interviewing all of us. Let me just say now how amazing he is. He teaches with some of the most power I've ever heard. He uses the scriptures as he teaches, and then he expounds them and applies them to us in ways I had never thought of. He's awesome, and I'm excited to be working with him for two years! Anyways, later on that night he gave us an amazing talk on obedience and diligence. The next morning we got up and left for the transfer meeting!
We had a quick mission orientation before the meeting, and then it was time to get new companions! Once again, President Porter gave an amazing talk about how our experiences now prepare us for the future. He also gave us a whole bunch of scriptures in the Doctrine and Covenants proving that the Cincinnati mission is the best mission in the world! Go see if you can find them! After that, if was companion time! And my companion is..... Elder Graf! And my area is..... The Dayton Spanish area! So basically we cover a whole bunch of areas, but we primarily focus on the Spanish Speakers in those areas. So our area is huge! So huge that I've hardly seen any of it yet, and we've been out working for 5 days now! Anyways, Elder Graf is great! We found out pretty early on that we have the exact same birthday; the same day and the same year, so we're the exact same age! How crazy is that!? He's only been out in the field about 4 and half months, so he's a relatively young trainer, but he does a great job.
Ohio is super green! Instead of mountains, they have trees! Seriously, it's like a forest in some places. And as far as humidity, it actually hasn't been too bad. We've had a few hot days, but nothing like what I was expecting.
Let's move on to Spanish. Ok, so I thought I was ok at Spanish by the end of the MTC, but I very quickly learned that understanding MTC teachers and understanding native speakers is a completely different thing! I have to focus super hard just too kind of understand parts of what are being said. And speaking is hard too, firstly because I don't know what they're saying, and second because even if I somehow figure out what is being said, by the time I've come up with a response, we have already moved on... But it'll come; I've already learned so much!
As far as contacting goes, that's an adventure as well. I'm not the most outgoing person, so going up to random people and starting a conversation about the Restored Gospel is kind of difficult, but I'm working on it. I've already (in just 5 days!) had some amazing experiences! I've met people who have said that for the past few weeks they've been feeling like a part of them has been missing, and how they have been studying religion like crazy to try and fill it. I've met people who agree with a lot of the things we tell them right off the bat because it "makes sense". It's absolutely amazing how the Lord prepares people to receive the truth. I know he does! The people are out there, we just have to find them! On the other hand, I've had doors shut in our faces, people get in their cars and drive away when they see us coming, and my favorite to date, an old lady who saw us walking up her sidewalk and yelled "I'm not interested dudes, go away!" So yeah, it's always an interesting experience...
But the tough part right now is finding Spanish speakers to teach. Our branch is pretty small, so we have a lot of finding that we're doing through door to door contacting because there aren't tons of referrals right now. We also work a lot with less active members and part member families right now too.
Spanish church was a super interesting experience. Imagine 4 hours of meetings (we went to branch council as well) in which you could only understand about half of what was being said. I also had to get up and introduce myself in priesthood and give the opening prayer in sacrament! Just to give you an idea of how small the branch is, there were 30 people in sacrament meeting yesterday! But it'll grow!
The apartment is good. It's just me and Elder Graf. We live in a town called Huber Heights. If you want to send me anything, you can just send it to the mission office and they'll forward it on (I believe). 4610 North Bend Road P.O. Box 11671 Cincinnati OH 45211. The only thing I really would like would be a few more ties. Preferably some with some brighter colors, and maybe a paisley tie in there as well. That's about it. And you can hold off on sending those journals if you'd like. I'll need them eventually, but I don't need them right now.
Also, we have a car! So I’m not in need of a bike at the moment. We also have cell phones! New technology might be coming in the future, but for now, that's what we've got!
Well, I'm about out of time, so I'll leave you with a brief testimony. I know this work is true. I know it with all of my heart, there's no doubt in my mind. Every time I have borne my testimony to a random person on the street or to a family in broken Spanish, I have felt the Spirit confirm it to me. I know that Joseph Smith received a divine answer to his prayer, and that through him the Lord has restored his church once again to the Earth with all the teachings and authority necessary for our salvation. Our Heavenly Father loves us so much, and all he wants for us is happiness in this life and in the life to come. I know that as we follow our Savior, we can return to live with him again.
Thanks so much for all the support! I'll talk to you all next P-day!
Love you all so much!
|Me and one of my MTC teachers, Hermano Mennis.|
|Our district and Hermano Mennis.|
|Our district and our other teacher Hermana Osborn.|
|Colby being Colby :)|
|The nasty Zone Leader pillow, passed on from zone leader to zone leader in our zone.|
|Me and Elder Maughan and our Zone Leaders in training.|
|Us and our Finnish speaking friends (awkward space included...)|
|Saying goodbye to Elder Maughan... at 3am.|
|Me and President and Sister Porter in Ohio!!|
|Me and Elder Graf, my new companion!|