There is so much that has happened in the past week and a half. I am in my first area for the Washington Yakima Mission, and out of all the areas in the mission I was assigned to The Dalles, OR, How ironic? My first area isn't even in Washington. It is so beautiful here though, there is an actual fall. Leaves are changing color and the weather is beautiful and there are so many beautiful trees everywhere. It is amazing.
I had a plethora of adventures while traveling up from Mexico City. We left at 2:30 in the morning to make it to the airport and traveled all day and once we arrived in Yakima, it turned out that nobody in the mission office knew that we were coming that day. We were stranded for an hour or so at the Yakima Airport, which is the smallest airport I have ever seen. Luckily, we knew a phone number we could call and asked to borrow somebody's phone and got in contact with someone who informed President Lewis that he had 5 Elders waiting to be picked up at the Airport. Since then, we have been referred to as the Lost Tribe of Mexico.
My trainer's name is Elder Wilson. He is so awesome. He is from Huntington Beach California and he is the best trainer in the entire mission. His Mom is from Peru and his Spanish is so good. I am so glad to have him at my side, because the latinos here speak so fast and mumble a lot but he picks up all of it and is able to help me out.
I could spend this entire email describing the beauty of Yakima Washington and The Dalles, OR. There is so much good here and I love this place so much. Even more than the scenery, I love the people. The other day we met this woman named Widge, and she is one of my favorite people. She is an older woman and has 4 kids who have all left the nest and she is so eccentric and interesting. When we knocked on her door, we asked if there was any service we could provide for her. She informed us that Halloween is her favorite holiday and that she loves to decorate her yard as much as possible, and that she was just thinking that this year she wouldn't be able to decorate because she can't move all the boxes. We set up a time later in the week and went back and helped her decorate her lawn and she had the coolest stuff I have ever seen. She had a hand chair carved entirely out of wood from Thailand in her house, and so many Halloween decorations you wouldn't believe. She made us apple pie to thank us for helping her and invited us to come back any time.
Another woman that we have had the chance to serve is a lady named Reba. She lives in a retirement home and we get to visit her twice a week to listen to her tell us stories about her life so that we can write them down and make a little book for her about her life. It is so much fun, and she has some of the best stories. Some of my favorites were the stories of her Grandpa who was an explosives expert who lost his eye and had a glass eye that he would throw at her to freak her out. The story of how her husband proposed is also pretty amazing. His parents had died and he was feeling pretty depressed, so she decided to invite him to her cousin's wedding. They had been dating for a while, and she figured that a celebration of happiness would cheer him up. His response was, "I'll go to a wedding... If you're the bride!" They were married a couple months later.
The work out here is so much harder than everything back in Mexico City. However, the little victories make all the difference. There's a man named Ernesto that we are teaching and he has two little boys, Hernan and Abraham. He is such an awesome guy, and his kids are a blast. Hernan keeps all of the commitments that we leave with them, and Ernesto follows as well. Abraham is such a little ball of energy, and loves to run around all the time. Yesterday at church he just ran up to me and hugged my legs. There is no better feeling than knowing that you are making a difference in somebody's life.
I love this work so much! It is so hard, but the results make it so worth it. I have found that the key to success out here is completely devoting yourself to whatever you are doing. No holding back. All engines on. When you devote yourself entirely to a task, whatever that may be, you find yourself loving whatever it is, no matter what might be going on. I am reminded of a quote by one of my heroes, Abraham Lincoln. "Whatever you are, be a good one."
I love you all so much and I hope that you can feel my love for you all the way from out here in The Dalles!
Con Mucho Amor,
P.S. For the pictures, I attached 3 from our service we did with Widge. The first one is me with my companion, Elder Wilson (who is wearing a mask) just goofin' around while putting up decorations. The next is of my height being utilized to hang a giant spider in a tree. You can see Widge helping me out and my companion dressed as some ca$h money. I plan on getting a camera today so I should have more pictures for next week!
We are delighted to report that your missionary has arrived safely to the Washington Yakima Mission. We already love them and are excited to serve with them. We are confident that they will become an effective instrument in the hands of the Lord in sharing the gospel with the people of Washington and Oregon.
We have assigned them a companion who is an experienced, devoted, and motivated missionary. All of our missionaries understand that one of the greatest privileges available in the mission is to train a new missionary. This first companion will be a special person in your missionary’s life and will help give them a great start here.
We feel that our greatest responsibility is the care and welfare of your child. We want to assure you that we will be in regular contact with them and will be observant of their physical health, happiness and spiritual well-being. We will work closely with them throughout their mission to help them succeed and fulfill their calling as a representative of the Church and as an ambassador of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Please be assured that we will be in contact with you if we encounter any concerns that would call for your attention. You are a great asset to the success of your missionary while they are serving here and we will work closely with you if the need arises. Please keep us apprised of any changes to the address, phone number or email for you, your bishop or your stake president. We want to keep our records current so that we can contact you whenever necessary.
Attached is a photograph of your missionary taken with us at the welcome dinner at the mission home. Please feel free to contact us at the mission office with any questions that you may have.
Thank you for the sacrifices you are making at home to have your missionary in the field. We have seen the Lord bless the families of missionaries who are serving in untold ways. We know that His blessings will be upon you as well.
This week has been crazy busy and has flown by so fast. I only have a couple more days in Mexico City before I head up to Washington for the next two years, Sad to leave the beautiful city and culture of Mexico, but very excited to be returning back to the States. My spanish has improved a ton, despite my hawaiian greeting for this weeks email.
Something that I already knew but was reminded of during this past week is that life is hard. Sometimes I think that it's the hardest thing there is. It can be really difficult to move past the trials we have in our lives with a positive attitude and a hard working disposition. I am reminded of a simple quote from Star Wars, to stay on target. Through all the difficulties that the big bully known as life decides to place before us, stay on target. Stay on target. Stay on target. Don't literally stay on the roof of your local Target, but stay on target.
I love you all and love hearing from you. Remember to always have fun and make jokes. Comedy is the ice that makes the Coke of life drinkable.
P.S. I actually have some pictures this week! They aren't the best, but hey. At least I have pictures. Included are pictures on the bus going through Mexico City and pictures with my district and my zone.
If you haven't noticed already, one of my favorite past times thus far is finding cheesy greetings in Español that rhyme. Everyone around me cringes each time I use one. There is no greater satisfaction.
I have officially been inducted into the elite society of respected gringos here in Mexico City, because this week I scored two goals while playing futbol. It was complete luck honestly, and after I scored I did the whole thing where I ran around with my arms held out wide screaming,"GOAAAAAAAAAAAL" because I was so proud of myself. The latinos that I was playing with were cracking up and we later won the game 3-2, so they decided to show me some of the cool handshakes that go on around here in Mexico. People should use cool handshakes more often.
This past week everyone has been pretty burned out and ready to leave the CCM and head out to the mission field. I've come to accept the fact that I will be exhausted for every second of the next two years. The other night, I was doing some studying while my companion was getting ready for bed. After a while I realized that I hadn't seen him in a while and figured he must have been in the bathroom. I called out for him and got no response, which was extremely odd, considering the fact that we're together all the time. I opened the bathroom door and found him asleep on the porcelain throne. It was hilarious.
I got to meet with an investigator last night named Josephina. When we first walked in and greeted her she started spouting out spanish so fast I swear I could see smoke coming out from her jaw. I looked at my companion and back at her and we had no idea what she had said. She winked and started cracking up and explaining in much slower spanish that she just wanted to see the expressions on our faces when she spoke as fast as she could. She was very nice and explained that a friend from work had referred her to come to the CCM and talk with us. We shared a quick lesson with her and before we closed, her eyes lit up and she looked at us and smiled and told us that she thought that we were great people and thanked us so much for talking with her. That small and simple comment made my day. There are times in our lives where we work so hard and do our best, and only get something small in return. It is easy to look back and think, "Wow. What a waste of time. I did everything I could and all I got was that?". If there is one thing I've learned during my time here in Mexico City so far, it is to be grateful for the small things.
I love you all and am grateful for the impact that each and everyone of you has had on my life. I leave you with the surprisingly profound words of Bill S. Preston and Theodore Logan, "Be excellent to each other! And party on!"
Hope that you are all doing well. I love hearing from you all each week, it really means a lot to me. Two nights ago there was an earthquake somewhere in Mexico and the sirens went off and we were all supposed to leave our houses and go stand in these safe zones that are marked all over the place here in Mexico City. I was sleeping and was the only one in my room that woke up,and I thought that I was receiving a vision or something because the sirens sound like a ton of trumpets blasting. No angel appeared so I just went back to sleep.
The days here go by pretty slow but the weeks go by so fast. I honestly feel like it was like three days ago that I was emailing you all. The routine is pretty much the same thing everyday. Wake up, breakfast, study, lunch, study, dinner, study, bed.
My district has reached the point where we try and speak solo español every MondayWednesday and Friday. I've gotten pretty good at speaking the language but writing is much harder. I can read fairly well and understand. Every Wednesday I have the job of meeting the new people as they arrive here and so last night at dinner some of them asked me to speak in spanish to them and they all freaked out at how fast I could speak. Little did they know that all I was saying was, "I have hot cheese in my pants and I love talking with my pet bear." I love messing around with the younger Elders and Hermanas here.
I miss playing Quidditch so much. Whenever I clean my house on P-Day I take the brooms we have and just walk around with it between my legs. I wish the CCM had equipment here that we could use so I could teach people how to play. I also miss math. Am I going crazy? Sometimes I´ll just give myself a little math problem to do just for fun. What has my life come to.
I'm about to go get my haircut, and the way haircuts work here is you just make an appointment, sit in a chair and they just cut however they like. I hope I end up with a cholo cut or something. Love and miss all of you. I don't have any pictures this week (yet), I'm still waiting for Hermana Moline to send me the one we took last week after playing basketball and volleyball. I´ll try and get more pictures for you next week, but I will definitely start sending more once I get out in the field.