Thank you for your Email mom, good luck at girl's camp this week! I really was glad that we could talk on the phone as well.
I got here safely on Wednesday afternoon and met the mission president as well as my companions that day right as soon as I got there. The weather is super nice! I am serving in Escondido, a little inland of Carlsbad and it is warm, but not too bad. The air is nice and thick and I am able to run without too many complaints. A mission rule is that every morning we run for 30 minutes, so maybe I won't be going to Mongolia at 200 pounds after all!
I mostly spent this week getting to know the area and the members and the people we are teaching. My companions are Elders Wright and Campbell and they are showing me around really well. Elder Wright has been out for 7 months and Elder Campbell for 1. He was in and out of the MTC while I was there, so I have been a missionary longer, but he has been here longer. During the day we have the regular routine of:
up at 6:20
run and shower until 7
breakfast and get ready
personal study 8-9
companionship study 9-10
Language study for me while Elder Wright trains Elder Campbell 10-11
maybe contacting or tracting or an appointment until lunch at 12:30ish
then we head back out and find more people or visit less active members or recent converts
everyday is different, but we have always had dinner at a member's home. Usually around 5-6
Teaching appointments are typically in the evening as well as more visits and street contacting
Home by 9 and plan then get ready for bed and that's the day
We have the baptism of Marc Fletcher this Saturday and we just set 2 more dates last night for a couple of brothers. Marc is from South Africa and he has been taking lessons for about 3 weeks now and has had prior problems in his life, but has so much trust and faith that God can do more with his life than he ever could, so he has no problems with making changes.
I forgot my camera, so pictures will be on the way next week, so sorry! I have been busy and mostly flustered getting adjusted. I am really happy and the days are flying as I work hard. I got food and a belt my first day here, so that turned out fine. I had quite a problem finding one that fit, to be perfectly honest. I am wider than before, but not to the point of being able to make the super size belts fit yet, so I was stuck in the middle. The belt I have now is a 38 and I can barely squeeze into the first hole. I have not lost any weight yet, but I think I will start to soon... I hope so at least.
It is not strange at all to be out of the MTC really. I am pretty used to just moving and starting a new lifestyle, so I am lucky the transition was smooth. The hardest part was my companions not speaking Mongolian! I would tell them something important and they just keep walking, so I express again, more emphatically that I really need to spill my waters and they still don't listen. It took me awhile to realize that I was talking in Mongolian and they thought I was just practicing the first vision of something.
Every house we visit people want me to pray in Mongolian, so I do, but then they tell me it sounds like chicken, or Hebrew or cats regurgitating hairballs, so I am less eager to volunteer myself to pray now. My Spanish is getting alright again though. We run into a lot of Hispanics and it is fun to try to talk to them in Spanglish, but I am really excited to get to Mongolia!
I forwarded you that Email from the church about my visa and it tell me that I have not been approved yet, which is a little disappointing. I thought it was approved, but I guess not. I really love the work here and I do not mind staying in California for a bit! The mission has the richest zipcode in the United States as well as other extremely affluent areas. Escondido (where I am) is not up there, but it is nice.
My brain is a little fried right now, so I can't think of any stories or amusing experiences. I have been really quiet and only spoken when spoken to or when I have a question, but I think I will be more comfortable this week and get out and talk to my companions more. I have no problem talking to strangers, so it should be easy to talk to the people I spend all day with!
The most peaceful feeling I had this week was at a member's house, whose kids are the two brothers who are getting baptised August 6, after dinner. That was a bad sentence, let me clarify. The 2 boys we are teaching, their parents are divorced, so they are over only half the time and we were over last night to teach them. They have a really long story that I will tell you when I get home, because that would be more appropriate. Anyways, dinner was great and then it was time for family home evening. The dad and boys and my companions went on the sofa, to watch Mormon Messages but I was still clearing my plate and the table and such, so while everyone was on the other side of the room, I helped sister Mckinney (the mom) clean up the kitchen and load the dishwasher and just organize a little. I could see my companions the whole time, so don't worry about me not following all the rules! When I was doing that service I felt so relaxed, which I had not felt since I got here and I was not worried about all of the other things that are going on and I was really sad when the kitchen was clean, because I felt like there must be more I could do. I really hope that I can always remember how I feel when I serve others.
I am so glad for the opportunity to be in Carlsbad and be in this great area and able to work with members and teach people the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I will never have an opportunity quite like this again. I am going to work as hard as I can and study diligently so that I will be prepared at all times and in all things and in all places when He calls on me.
The time went really fast, and we have to go, but the mission address that I can be reached at, and I would LOVE anything, is:
451 W. Bobier Dr. Vista, CA 92083
Thank you all for your prayers and support. Talk to you next week!