Monday, September 28, 2015

Highlights of Thoughts For the Week

It is definitely crazy how fast time has gone! It seems like just yesterday that I was marking one month off my checklist, and now I'm already to two! Although 2 months really isn't much in comparison to 2 years, it was a little crazy when I realized that between the last time that I noticed how long I've been out (1 month) and now, I've gone from being a 24th of the way done with my mission to a 12th! And in another month I'll be up to an 8th!  Of course those number shifts are going to start coming less and less frequently really soon, but it's still kind of an interesting way to look at time passing!

This last week has been crazy! The work really picked up, and that, in addition to the fact that Elder Wihongi will be leaving has made it really busy! We've been saying tons of goodbyes, teaching a ton, and just working really hard. It's been a little hard for me to focus on the here and the now with Elder Wihongi being forced to look towards post mission, and everyone giving him post mission advice. I'm excited for the chance to get a new companion and be able to really just dig into mission work and not have to think about post mission life for a while!

Some highlights of thoughts for this last week:
  • I've been getting Big Red gum in every package I've gotten so far, and even though I'm not technically allowed to chew gum (it tends to be distracting when you're talking to others) I've found a use for it!  Apparently Big Red gum is the gum of choice for people who are trying to quit smoking, so I've been giving away tons of packs of it to all of our investigators who are trying to quit smoking. So keep the Big Red coming! Haha.
  • We had dinner at Sister Sanchez's house this last week. She made us papoosa's, which were delicious! I don't know if I've mentioned before, but she's sort of like the missionary mom for our ward. She's just amazing. She always thinks about others more than herself, and is nice to everyone.
  •  I've decided that when it comes to socks, Powersox is the brand to go with for mission work.
  • Special request from one of my investigators: we're teaching someone named Adnan.  He's 29 years old, and has some pretty serious mental issues, but is the nicest guy that you're ever likely to meet.  This last visit, he asked if I ever miss my family and if they ever miss me. I told him that we both miss each other, but we both know that the work I'm doing is important, and that makes it easier to handle. He asked me to be sure to tell them that "there is a boy named Adnan, and you are changing his life, and his life will never be the same because of you. I hope that helps them miss you less."  I'm so blessed to be out here and have the opportunity to share the gospel and help people.  Sure there are things that I miss about home, but I have the rest of my life to do those things, and only two years to do this, so I'm going to commit myself fully!
  • Last thought: I love general conference. I've always received guidance for my life from it, and I know you all can too! Even if you're not a member of the church, just think of it as a weekend of Ted Talks for your life and your spirituality! Go in with a question about something you're not sure about right now, and I promise you'll get an answer! I'm so glad I get the opportunity to help other people learn about and enjoy this amazing conference and the blessings that come from it!

Q&A – 9/28/15

1.) What are your plans for General Conference?  --I’m not positive on general conference yet... From what I understand we try to get investigators to members houses to watch it, and it can be really stressful. I'll definitely miss being able to just relax and enjoy it for myself, but I guess it's a worthwhile sacrifice to help others experience it!

2.) Have you been given any hints as to whether or not you'll be staying in the same area this transfer? --I actually found out most of the stuff about transfers Saturday! I'll be staying in the haven ward, and will still be a junior companion! (Definitely relieved about that one). All I know about my new comp is that his name is Elder Dixon and he hasn't been out much longer than I have. Super excited though!

3.) How many wards do you work with? And how many missionaries cover your area? --I only work with one ward, haven, and our ward only has one set of missionaries. Some companionship’s have two wards, but I only have one, and the geographical area is pretty small. I think there's a map that lets you see the ward and stake boundaries on if you want to find it and post a link.  
Haven Ward, Warm Springs Stake, Las Vegas Nevada

4.) Are you adjusting to the heat? --I'm adjusting to the heat pretty well! I really don't mind it too much, because I've just resigned myself to being hot and sweaty for the next two years, haha. That being said, it's starting to get cooler, and should be really nice soon!

5.) Best moment of the week? --We had a combined district meeting on Wednesday which was pretty cool! We met with the district that usually meets in the room next to us at the same time. The trainings were by the two district leaders and also 2 of the departing missionaries, and were really good!

Monday, September 21, 2015

My Week Has Flown By

The end of the transfer is coming on fast! I'll be done with my first transfer a week from tomorrow! It seems crazy that it's gone by so fast! I'm looking forward to the change of pace a new transfer will bring, but with my companion leaving, everyone keeps hinting that I might be training, which is really nerve racking!

This last week has flown by! I was on exchanges twice, once with my district leader and once with one of my zone leaders. Both were awesome experiences, and helped me a lot with different struggles that I've been dealing with.

My funny experience for the week was a visit to a new family, the Misipeka's. They're a new member family that just moved in. They're Samoan, and they have 13 kids. My companion is also Polynesian and really tall. So just imagine if you will: short, small, white Elder Excell crammed on the couch between a bunch of big burly Polynesians.  Definitely one of the funniest things of the week!

The other funniest thing has to be the musical number I heard at a fireside on Sunday. They have what's called a “Why I Believe" fireside once a month here, converts to the church share their conversion stories, and sometimes, missionaries perform musical numbers. My companion and some of the other departing missionaries decided to sing the version of “I Hope They Call Me On a Mission” from the movie The RM.  (maybe my editor will be good enough to include a recording, ;)).  Bless their hearts, they really tried to do some barbershop harmonies, but it has to be one of the funniest, most tone deaf performances I've heard to date, haha. It was a struggle to keep a straight face through it!

I feel like I learn a lot every day, but every time I try to come up with a spiritual experience to share in the blog, my mind goes blank! This next week I'll do my best to jot down a specific experience that I can share!

I do feel truly blessed to have the opportunity to be out here serving people every day, and I want to testify of the power of the Savior in our lives! I couldn't make it a single day out here without his help, and I know that he can help all of us with any problems that we’re facing!

That's all for this week, I love you all!

Audio to "I Hope They Call Me On a Mission" referred to above by Elder Excell :)

Q&A 9/21/15
1.)  I'm curious about how money works with missionaries.  Do you get a specific amount each month?  Do they give you cash or on some kind of a debit card?  Do you have to pay your rent from your amount? -- We get $125 a month on a debit card. They take care of the rent separately.

2.)  Do you feel like you have enough money to provide for your needs?  -- More than enough. I was surviving on about $40-$60 a month in salt lake, and that was when I was covering all my meals and not getting free dinner all the time. I honestly don't understand how missionaries can run out of money before the end of the month, but it happens. 

3.)  Do you have a lot of dinner appointments or do you get the chance to cook for yourselves very often?  -- We have dinner appointments nearly every night, but we still do lunch on our own, and I've done some baking.

P.S. to Mom:  One thing that I’ve learned over the last few weeks that I think applies to your new job is that there is very little growth in the comfort zone and very little comfort in the growth zone!  :) Hang in there!

Monday, September 14, 2015

It's Becoming a Blur

Our day at the temple :)
 As I settle into the routine more and more, it's getting harder to think of things to include in my emails!  I guess that it's all just starting to blur together so it's hard to pick out specific things to talk about. This next week, I'll try to specifically look for things to write home about. For now, I'll include something I’ve learned this week so there's at least something in this letter, haha.

Patience is definitely hard. I'm definitely developing it with having to switch to the “day at a time” mentality that I'll need to be able to last 2 years without psyching myself out. One thought I really like (that came from the movie Evan Almighty of all places) is that if we pray for patience, God doesn't give us patience, he gives us opportunities to be patient. Kind of stressful, haha. It does make me think twice about praying for humility too.  ;)

Adventures of a Mission Barber

Also, someone asked what my daily routine looks like:
6:30-wake up/exercise. Usually some weights in the gym. 
7:00-get ready for the day/breakfast
8:00-personal and companion study
10:00- sometimes different stuff like district meeting or weekly planning, but usually just go out and work and teach until lunch, then go back out and teach til dinner (at a members house) then work until 9 or 9:30. Then come home and plan for the next day, then get ready for bed and start it all over again the next day. 
Making Grandma's Cookies
Something I’ve been thinking about a lot this week: I'm a big believer in the fact that almost the only thing you have absolute control of in life is how you react to situations and how you feel. So why wouldn't you choose to look at the good stuff and be happy!?!? 

That's all for this week!  I'd love to hear from you!

Q&A   9/14/15
1.) Do you pull your bike into your apartment each night or do you have a place that you lock it up tight? --We keep the bikes in the apartment every night.

2.) How often do you get to go to the temple?  --We get to go once a quarter, but new missionaries and their companions get to go an extra time in the first transfer.

3.) Best moment of the week?  --It's hard to narrow them down! Probably teaching the Martin family. They're a part member family. The kids are 12, 14, and 16. None are baptized because the dad has a rule about not being baptized until you're 16, but the oldest girl is turning 16, and he wants her to take the missionary discussions before she's baptized. The mom and kids have been super active these last few years since the oldest daughter started to be curious about it, so they're all already really passionate about the gospel and just a lot of fun to teach.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Hoist us up by our ankles...

Not much time this week! The office at our apartment that we usually go to for email is closed for the holiday weekend, so all of my email is being sent via iPad from the stake center where we play zone sports. I'll still try to get a few things down though!

Funny experience for the week: we were teaching this big Samoan guy in the ghetto area, and he had just had a new security system installed.  We asked him if it did anything fancy like hoisting them up by their ankles, and he said, "nah, that's what I'm here for." It was SO funny, haha!

The biking has been really good lately. It's been keeping me in really good shape and now that it's starting to cool down its actually really enjoyable!

We had a really cool experience for this Sunday! One of our less active members has been having a REALLY hard time. This Sunday we fasted for her, and she had some amazing things happen to her! Her son is coming home from his mission at the end of the month, and she's been really nervous about it. But on Sunday out of the blue one of his mission companions called and asked if he could come by to talk. His dad came with him and it turns out that he knew our member friend from high school! It was just a really good day for her, and she hasn't had very many of those lately. It might not seem like much, but I know that it was a small miracle! Heavenly Father answers prayers!

I wish I could think of more to say, but this p day has been really crazy, and I'm running out of time! Maybe one of these weeks I'll actually have time to write a decent size letter!

Q&A – 9/7/15

1.) Does your iPad take pictures? -- Yes! I'll try and get some of the ones from off of the iPad to you today.

2.) Do you get our email when it's sent or not until Monday's? -- I get my email whenever I connect to wifi, but I usually try not to check it til p-day anyways so that I can stay focused.

3.) Do you get letters and packages through the week or only on Mondays? -- We pick up letters and packages from the mission office on Mondays, so that's also only once a week.

4.) We want to hear about your baptism on Thursday. Who was it? How old? How long have they been working with the missionaries? -- The baptism ended up falling through, :(. I'm not too depressed about it, but it was definitely sort of a stressful day. Long story short, we found out the night before the baptism that she's actually not married. She calls the guy her husband, wears a ring, has been with home for 20 years and has 3 kids, but they just don't know if they're right for each other. It's no ones fault really, just the previous elders made some false assumptions, and we weren't as careful as we should have been with checking it out. Still a little embarrassing for us and for her though to have to call off the baptism the night before when so many people were planning on coming.

5.) Do you spend time tracting each week or do you mostly work with referrals from ward members? --  We don't do any door to door tracting, but we talk to everyone on the street, and that's how we get most of our appointments. We also get a good number of member referrals and working with less actives.