I am finally here in Mesa, Arizona, where I will be for the next 22 months serving the Lord and bringing others to his fold.
As soon as we got off the plane, we met President Ellsworth and the AP's. He's really nice and encouraging. You can tell that this work is so important to him (not too surprising since he is a Mission President). We loaded all our luggage into vans and trucks and then headed off to the Visitors Center of the Mesa Temple where we had a little bit of an orientation. On the ride over I was taking a look at what my surroundings were going to be like for the next two years...sand, cactus, palm trees, rocks, and desert. It reminded me a lot of Las Vegas.
When we got to the Visitors Center we were taught a little bit about the mission culture (mission standards, goals, etc.) and had an opportunity to bear our testimonies. There was one new elder in our group that is from Cancun, Mexico. His testimony in Spanish was really powerful, even though I was only able to understand about 70% of it. It is kind of hard for me to understand Spanish at this point because it takes me a little while to think of the meaning of some words. I told him that it was really awesome and he said that my testimony was the best, but I'm sure he was just being nice. The thing is that he has the ability to speak English better than I can speak Spanish and we have both spent the same amount of time in the MTC. I guess it is just because he is completely surrounded by English speaking people.
Anyway, after that we went back to the mission home which is literally right across the street from Jeremy's old high school, Saguaro High. We spent a little bit of time filling out some paperwork and meeting with the President, and then we split up for overnight exchanges with some of the leaders in the mission. I was paired up with Elder Derochie whose companion had gone home the day before. He is currently serving in Phoenix (which is part of our mission) so we left Scottsdale and headed over to Phoenix. He is from Alberta, Canada, and has been out 1 year and 3 months. His Spanish is really good.
The first thing we did was do a little contacting. The first contact I did was to a white guy who was from Yorktown, NY, which was really weird. He was super skinny, had all sorts of piercings, black fingernails, tattoos and tight jeans. He was pretty nice but not interested. The next contact I did was to these two teenagers named Giovanni and Frances. It was in English but I was able to set up an appointment to come and teach them, even though I was only in the area for one night. One thing about the Spanish people is that they almost always listen to what you have to say and almost always let you come over and teach them. The trick is being able to find the ones that actually care about our message and will keep commitments. The rest of the night was spent going to appointments which were all in Spanish except for one. I was able to bear a short testimony is Spanish at each appointment, but it is pretty hard to understand them a lot of the time.
Our last appointment was with this guy named J-lock who is a rapper who was excommunicated from the Church a while ago when he was a minor. He claims to have rapped with 2pac, Snoop Dogg, and DMX. He is currently signed with Universal Records and is recording an album or something. He is a really nice guy who still likes the Church and everything. He has actually introduced about 12 people to the Church since he was excommunicated who have been baptized. This was the first time the missionaries have been able to talk to him in about three months. We were able to get him to commit to come to Church. He also wasn't really feeling well so we gave him a blessing. I did the anointing and my companion did the sealing. It was a pretty cool experience. The first day was really good and I could really see the hand of the Lord help calm me when I was getting a little nervous. I am really eager to learn Spanish so the language will not be an issue for me. I was so exhausted at the end of that day from all of the traveling and stuff so I slept like a baby.
The next morning we went back to the Mission Home to get our trainers. I was really nervous because I really wanted to get a trainer that I could get along with and that could teach me a lot. My trainers names are Elder Reid and Elder Biddle and I will be serving in the Mesa North Stake (Liohona 4 ward). Elder Biddle has only been out for 6 weeks and Elder Reid has been out for 1 year and 6 months, so he is basically training 2 people. Elder Biddle was born in England but went to high school in Atlanta. Elder Biddle is from Montana. They are both really awesome, especially Elder Reid.
Last night we taught a bunch of lessons. I was able to bear my testimony on prayer and how I have used prayer to ask for the Lord's help in learning Spanish. The investigator got a kick out of that so it was pretty awesome. I was also able to teach an on-the-spot lesson with this member of the Church that we found at the park. He was a Priest and he wasn't really thinking about going on a mission, so we taught him about that. I shared some scriptures and bore my testimony on how this is where the Lord needs us at this point. I committed him to pray about it and I promised him that if he was diligent and sincere in asking, the Lord would answer him. One thing that we always do is sing for our investigators, which is really awesome and it invites the spirit.
So those were my first 2 days in the mish. I haven't spoken as much Spanish as I would have liked, but its getting there. I'm sure within the next couple of weeks my ability to understand the language will improve and I will be able to communicate much better. I love the people of Mesa already and I am so grateful for the opportunity I have to bring the gospel to them.
Also I got the packages with my bedding and and the goodies that you sent me, so thanks a lot. The jerky is awesome as always. Also I am in a biking area right now so if you could send me my bike that would be awesome. Right now I am borrowing a member's bike. It would be awesome if you could send me the Specialized since dad never uses it, it sits in the basement forever and the other bikes we have stink. I will need a helmet as well. My address is:
510 North Ashland
Mesa, AZ 85203
Thank you for all of your prayers. I love you guys a ton. I wish I could write more but I only have 1 minute left. I attached 2 pictures of me and my companions at a member's house.