Sunday, October 24, 2010

Tuesday October 19, 2010 (letter received October 22)

Buenos Dias Mi Familia!

Wow! I've been out in the field for a week!  I just sent you an email today with some info, so I hope that helps.  Behind me, my companions and district are b-ballin' it up but since my shorts are in the wash I'm writing letters to you!  Hooray!

Sheesh, I'm not sure where to begin.  I'll start with today, and see where I get from there.  I woke up at 4:00AM so we could go to a session at the San Diego Temple.  Elders Custer and Van Leer (my english speaking roommates [It seems that there are missionaries assigned to separately serve spanish and english speaking people in the San Diego mission]) and I went (we can only go once every 3 months and my companions already went.)  It is such a beautiful and amazing temple, I love its design and architecture, and definitely the Spirit there.  I really enjoyed going but as you might guess, I'm kind of tired.  After the temple, my companions and I wrote emails, did a little shopping and washed some dishes.  Living with 4 other college-aged men, the kitchen can get a little messy, so I was trying to cut down on our dirty dishes.  It's a little tough keeping things clean, but I'm trying for it, because having a clean home invites the Spirit.

Like I said before, I've got an airmattress, which is actually pretty nice, and no closet, but I've been fine just using my suitcases, and no one else seems to mind me having my luggage out.  Our apartment is a touch old, but good and gets the job done.  A lot of people here live in apartments, and after a while I'm kind of looking forward to living in one myself at some point!  Kind of fun.  National City is actually separate from San Diego (founded in 1881 or something) and I enjoy it!  Like I said, it's a bit poorer than where we live [Katy] but the people are wonderful.  I've really enjoyed getting to know the members here, and a lot of them help us out with missionary work!  A lot of people travel back and forth from Tijuana, which is pretty cool.  It's super nice too, how the members feed us occasionally!! It's quite delicious, and I get to try some new foods.  Unfortunately I over ate once or twice (had 2 meals back-to-back) but I just need to be grateful and do my best.  The Lord will take care of my needs.

I really like my companions.  Elder Jardine is from Canada and has been out for about a year and a half.  He has a cast (broke his hand on his bike) so we drive a car but it doesn't slow him down.  He's an awesome teacher and loves the people he teaches.  He's taught me a lot about being a missionary.  Actually the mission really works hard to build in us the ability to recognize people's needs and focus on purpose in everything we do.  I'm really grateful that I came here to get to learn so many important skills that I can take with me to Mexico!  I haven't been working on Spanish as much as I've been trying to master the principles behind these skills so I can apply them to my teaching, using what Espanol I learned in the MTC.  Actually I've been able to understand most every conversation I listen to (though it's easy to lose track when I'm tired or distracted) which I feel is the gift of interpretation of tongues, honestly!  Speaking is tough at times (nerves) bit I can communicate.  I need to work on that!  I'm so grateful though for the Spirit helping me with where I'm at already.

So, yeah, Elder Jardine is a greater teacher and trainer.  My other companion is Elder DeBaltzo, from Ohio.  He's been here 2 or 3 months, so he's just a little "older" than me, though he already has a lot of experience and helps me too.  He has great Spanish, so I rely on them to a good amount.  He's pretty similar to me, actually, in lots of things!  So he helps me out with beginner things and stuff like that.  I was blessed to come in on their hard work, and I hope over time I'll get to know them better and be able to work with them better.  They've tried to get to me know me, though, which I really appreciate.  And our district is really friendly.  It's not easy, but they make it a lot better than it could be.  Service and thinking about others is really important.

That's all the background I can think of for now.  The biggest thing this past week was the baptism of Maria Valdez.  She's really nice, in her 60's or so, and has an amazing testimony, mostly gained by herself.  A really nice baptism.  Apparently the mission has been having a lot of success lately; there were 3 others baptized with Maria.  We're still trying to find some more people to teach but that will come eventually.  Just have faith!

With all the work we've done with members, reaching them and visiting and asking for their help, I wonder how the elders in our (Katy) ward are doing?  Maybe you could invite them over!

I'm glad you are all well.  Wish Sam well for me!  And Julia - I hope school's going great for you!  And GOOD LUCK AT UIL AND AREA!!! YOU CAN DO IT!!!


PS Say Hi to Boris for me!

Behind the Scenes....

At the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah.
Along with the letter we received this week from Oliver (more to follow on that,) we got a memory card of photos. Here are a few, including some behind the scenes looks at everyday life during the 2 months of intense language and gospel teaching training.

The laundry room is where the action is on "P-day" - letter writing and email
Dinner at one of the cafeterias - its all you can eat!

8-10 hours of study a day
Everyone is grouped into "districts" based on the language you are learning and which mission you are assigned to .  This is Oliver's district,  in P-day clothes (Oli's on the top bunk in white shirt.)

And now in usual clothes (Oliver is on the right in the red tie, looking relaxed.)
Oliver and his assigned companion in the MTC - Elder Reed - in their short haircuts.  Both are headed to Monterrey.
Oliver and Elder Reed pose in front of the Provo Temple, located across the street from the MTC. 
An unknown MTC buddy 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Tuesday October 19, 2010 (email)

HEY everyone! I just got through my first week in the field; wow! Crazy to think that it's been that long, but then again, not so much. A ton has happened in the past week, but the biggest thing is that I'm doing great. I've had a couple struggles, as everyone does, but I'm enjoying my time here and I want to continue working! : D
Let's see, about correspondence... I now have 2 available hours for emailing, so no problem there. I haven't had a chance to write yet today, and I think I'd prefer to keep writing you letters, just because it's more fun and physical (writing emails might actually be faster for me, but maybe not. We'll see). Here's some quick and fast info:

It looks like they only pick up letters from the mission office every Prep Day (Tuesday), so hopefully I'll be getting some mail from you later today.
My companions, like I said before, are Elder Jardine (a 1.5 yr missionary from Canada, with awesome teaching skillz; also the district leader) and Elder DeBaltzo (a 4 month missionary from Ohio with great Spanish and fun to be around)!
I get to write emails every Preparation Day (Tuesday), as well as write letters when I get the chance. My companions apparently like to email at 10 am on P-days (12 your time).
I have to buy my own food and laundry stuff, but I receive funds from the mission for that, and we've actually had several member meals this week!
I've been pretty busy, so I've haven't written in my journal in the past few days. Yikes! Need to get on that!
I don't know of much else to write here, besides that I might send some stuff home when I get a chance (like I mentioned, I think); I'll let you know when I do.

I'm glad to hear you're all doing well, besides Dad's headache; glad to hear you're better! GOOD LUCK JULIA AT UIL!!! I'm super excited for you and hope you go All the Way to STATE! : D And that's fun that Sam gets to come down! How are you doing at A&M, Sam? Did I tell you that ELDER ROSS LITTLE from the CS University Ward is a Zone Leader in my ward?? Cool beans, huh?
Cali is great stuff. It's been cloudy/overcast for the past few days, but the temp is perfect! I caught myself wishing I could go to D-land this morning; I guess it's just that CA atmosphere : D. I'm looking forward to an opportunity for some In-n-Out soon, I hope!

I'll tell ya'll more in my letter, if that's all right. I love you all TONS and BUNCHES and BUNDLES! You mean so much to me, and I've enjoyed even sharing pictures of you with my investigators! I hope and pray things are going well for you! Tell Grandma Tobler and Grandma and Grandpa Hatfield that I love them too! I look forward to receiving your letters, and I'll talk to you soon.


Thursday, October 7, 2010

October 7, 2010 - CALIFORNIA!!!

HOWDY everyone!! How are you all? I received some exciting news yesterday:

I'm being temporarily reassigned to the CALIFORNIA, SAN DIEGO mission, leaving this coming Tuesday!!!

I'm really excited, mostly because I know when and where I'm actually leaving :D I haven't recevied my flight plans yet, but I'll let you all know as soon as I can.

Quick info. Mission address in CA: Name, (mission), 7404 Armstrong Place, San Diego, CA 92111-4912. For later on, Mexico pouch is Name, Mission, POB 30150, SLC UT 84130-0150, and the office is Cerralvo #134, Col. Libertad, 67130 Guadalupe, Nuevo Leon, Mexico.

I also received the package from Amazon yesterday [CD player and plug in speaker]; THANK YOU so much! I'm really excited to listen to all those CDs once I get to Cali. It's a bummer though, because the speaker doesn't fit into the CD player! I'll have to find something to use in CA, I guess. I really appreciate it, though!

Sadly, my watch is also starting to die. I replaced the battery about a month ago, and now it's slowed down a ton and occasionally ticks backwards. I guess I can wait until I get to California to buy a new watch; what do you think?

And Mom, thanks a ton for the band bag! I look forward to receiveing it. I've really enjoyed the banana bread you sent (and everyone else in my district sends their heartfelt thanks as well! : D), and I really appreciate you sending those things to me. I'm not sure what they'll do with the sweater, but I can ask at the mailroom and let you know later; I think they'll just forward it to me.

My companion is going to Anaheim, and the other two Mexican missionaries are going to Arcadia (just north of LA). I'm really excited too!

I got your letters from Sunday today! Thanks soo much; I love you all too and really appreciate your testimonies, prayers, and support.

And thank you so much for your love and support! I say along the lines of Elder Holland's talk last Saturday: THANK YOU SO MUCH for everything you do! I could not be here without you, and I am so grateful. I love you all so much! I'm so excited to be leaving soon, and I look forward to perhaps calling you in the airport!!!! : D

Love muchly,

PS Hey Mom! My fellow district member and friend Elder Phillips is apparently friends with the Owner of Duncan Donuts! He gave me a chocolate one, and it was delicious. I thought of you! : D (Hope you don't mind me telling you and not giving you one)

PSPS Dad! Thanks for the JK Rowling talk; it was really interesting and thought provoking. AND CONGRATS on your 81!! That's totally awesome!

PSPSPSPSPSPS OK! Look forward to perhaps another email later today and definitely a letter! Love you all bunches!