Hey family it was so great to talk to you all that one y in the airport! I have officially been out here for 6 days now WOW! it feels like a month ago that i was at the MTC. So there was a ton of stuff that happened this week. I think most of you know but the first day i was here, my companion calls me and says you got a baptism tonight bro! so i was freaking out cause i had to memorize the little prayer in spanish and just didn't know what to expect. it was so sweet though that first day, i walk into the church, meet my comp named elder puertas, and then meet thel ittle girl i'm going to baptize. Her name is bianca. She was so sweet and nice to let me do that and her mom and brother also got baptized that day.
That family is so awesome and they are learning more and more all thetime. The little girls in that family love me too hah i love to make them laugh. So the first few days of me being here were kind of different because i was in a 3 some for a little while since elder puertas' old companion was actually going home on wednesday. So tuesday evening we just went and visited people he wanted to see. Although we did get a carne asada dinner which was spectacular! and i got to meet some more members in the spanish branch. Everyone loved the guy that was leaving though, his name was elder jones. I'll send a picture home of me and him and the people we baptized. Apparently he broke the record in the mission for baptisms. Anyway, tuesday night was good and i got to know my comp, jones, and another elder mack better.
Elder puertas is from peru, and has been out 7 months. He's way tight and just wants to succeed all the time. He seems like he just does whatever it takes which is cool. He is the district leader for our district and he's just a solid guy. Really funny and he's lookin out for me. He was kind of quiet for the first little while but i guess he was just stressin or something cause he's opened up now. I'm in Salem oregon right now which is supposed to be a great area. I can't really tell you all the specific areas we have because i dont know haha but we cover west salem for sure and a few other places as wwell. Our apartment is nice, its on the second floor but has a nice big sliding door window that we can look outside, a nice little tiny kitchen, two beds, another room for studying witha big couch haha, and a bathroom. It's actually a pretty nice place, very quaint. Elder puertas and i cover an english ward and a spanish branch so we do both english and spanish work. It's kind of hard too cause we'll talk to people in english and then get in that habit and i don't feel like i'm learning how to speak better to be honest. I am slowly understanding people better but speaking is still just what i could do in the mtc, which isn't bad but not great. But i love the wards i cover for real, they are awesome. Oh yeah and elder puertas is an awesome teacher, he seems to tie everything question they have into a gospel principle and then bring it back to the person we're teaching. It is awesome cause he makes the gospel apply to every situation no matter what we're talking about. He is great
On thursday we had a district meeting which was pretty long. I learned a lot though and i just like meeting more missionaries and feeling apart of everything ya know. That was the hardest thing about this week. I honestly felt useless. It was like i didn't know anybody, i don't know how to talk to people in spanish, it was hard to ujst be myself if we weren't in the apartment, and i just would get really frustrated. It slowly was wearing me down each day too. Every morning i would wake up determined to do somethhing better that day i dont even know what, but these little things would just wear me down. I think it's just part of the transitiion though into the field. I know i can start making a difference but i have start by making a little bit of a difference and then it wlil gradually grow as i do. But no lie there were a few times where i thought i was just gonna start crying at night when i would lay my head down to go to sleep but then i was too tired to think about anything and i would be out hahah. I actually meant that on friday we had district meeting and on thursday we had weekly planning where we kind of plan for half the transfer with baptisms and new investigator goals and things. Our goal for baptisms this transfer is 26. that is the magic number. I know we can get but we are gonna have to seriously kick it into gear. And tomorrow (tuesday), we are dong what's called "happy tuesday" where we are al going on splits (4 missionaries) with members so we'll have 4 companionships and we're splitting up all over our areas and finding people to teach. Our goal is to find 100 new people tomorrow. It's gonna be awesome. I've had a few opportunities to knock doors and stuff and i'm not very good at it but i'm getting there. I feel so official when i do it so i'm trying to be more just myself and say hey whats up instead of "hi we're selling religion" kind of thing. I wanna just be someone they can trust in those first few seconds on the door and then when the timne is right, bring up why im out here. Im getting there. Puertas has thrown me under the bus a few times too when h'e'll say oh i got this one and then he'll knock and be like "bro i'm not saying anything this is all you haha" so he keeps me on my toes and i've done a few door approaches in spanish and ya know i'm not so bad.
We have had a ton of appointments too meeting with recent converts and new investigators. To be honest though, we have only taught "lessons" like twice. I taught about the creation and adam and eve, and then i've born my testimony a few times haha so i'm just trying to get courage cause i'm such a wuss hahaha!
We kind of work differently too in our area. Since there are 4 spanish speaking elders we kind of work together which is cool but at te same time, i don't kknow if i love it. Elder mack and elder wilkes are the other two spanish elders. I just get frustrated because wilkes just got to this area even though he's been out a year but mack and puertas have been here for a bit. They know all the people and mack is decent at spanish so he can converse a little more so this past week i felt like i was getting jipped. this is why. one example is this past sunday. We were in the car, with all four of us, and mack and wilkes would have a schedule and so did we, we have a dinner even though we had eaten a late lunch right before. So we were going from lunch right to dinner YUCK and i was stuffed. Mack says oh hey we have to go visit so and so. Why don't we go on splits. So then mack and puertas go visit a family while me and wilkes just have to go suck it up and eat another dinner. There were other examples during the week where one would say oh we have to go visit this person. Naturally i don't know who they are but i'm never going to know them if i don't get to meet them. Anyway, one will say oh lets just go on splits so we can be more effective and more personal, which i understand, but then me and wilkes (who know nothing about the area) are left to go out tracting on our own looking for spanish people when neither of us know it very well. Maybe i'm just being a downer but i was getting so frustrated cause i felt like we had this happen like once a day. I realize that it's kind of selfish thinking but at the same time i feel like i'm just doing their dirty work. I guess i am the greenie so, whatever it is what it is. I just get frustrated cause they'll even sleep over at our house and then it takes us twice as long to plan cause we have distractions and they eat all my food hahaha (i dont really care about that), but in all seriousnss, i want to learn things from puertas and grow closer with him on a one on one basis. The few nights that we have been alone in our apartment have been awesome cause we'll do good studies in the morning and we'll have cool experiences where i can learn about him and missionary work and about myseflf. I love these guys really even mack and wilkes and everything but sometimes it's like okay we got called to be in a companionship not a foursome all the time. Yesterday evening was fun cause puertas and i got to go out solo knocking doors for a bit and got to do our own thing. Ahh those are all my frustrations i think.
I want to tell you about sunday thouhg cause it was dope! We had meetings in the morning and one guy told us about a family taht just moved in that is spanish, but also speaks english. So right after the meeting, we went over to their house and knocked. Luckily they were there, getting ready for church! ha fancy that. So we introduced ourselves and Jose the dad, is like, come on in guys come on in, "first of all i just want to let you guys know that i'm from the street. I've done it all, drugs, gang banging, everything." and then he un buttons his shirt and shows us all his tattoos. HA but he's like "i'm here now. I realized tahts not the life i want for me or my wife and kids. So i believe he's off the drugs and he's all religious now. His wife or girlfriends family is mormon but she is not. So neither of them are mormon but they are totally into it. They came an hour later to church and i basically sat with them the whole time. I got put on english duty this week so i went with jose and cindy and their son through sacrament meeting, gospel principles, and preisthod and relief society was combined. Which actually was perfect cause they were talking about unemployment and jose doesn't have a steady job right now so he was ALL ears. hah. They are so awesome though they were way into it, participating in discussions and everything. It was sweet. Then after those three hours, spanish branch sacrament meeting is right after so i went to all of english and then 1 meeting of spanish. We had 10 confirmations today! haha it was crazy and took up almost the whole time. I got to give that little girl bianca the holy ghost and give her a blessing in spanish! oh my gosh it was the highlight of my day! it was so awesome and i was so nervous too haha but i had a very powerful experience. The whole meeting i was trying to think about what i was gonna say and things and how to conjugate verbs and stuff, and then it was finally my turn, (i went last) and when i layed my hands on her head, i felt so good! My heart kept pounding but there was no wavering in my voice or buterflies in my stomach. I just said the words as i had practiced them and then gave her a blessing as i felt it. I ended up saying generally what i planned but that wasn't the point, it was mor just having faith that whatever i did say, the lord would take care of her and i felt something so powerful as i gave her the blessing. They always talk about a burning in the bosom and i always had no idea what that meant but as i gave her this blessing it was like a warm something pulsing through me. I wasn't hot but i just felt like i was really exercising the power of the priesthood, that it is so real. I was literally acting in the name of God at that moment when i gave her the holy ghost and i felt it. I have always been afraid to give blessings, not knowing exactly how to just rely on Heavenly father to help me know what to say. I think it was better that i had to do it in spanish ahahah because no matter what i was thinking, i needed a little help from above hah.it was awesome though and then she sat next to me bianca did, for the rest of the meeting and she drew me a picture of me and had her little ctr ring in spanish that i gave her (thanks mom!). She is so awesome. So that was my highlights of sunday. Our schedule was kind of different too cause we've been doing 11 at night is bed time and 7 is wake up. I dont know if we're allowed to but that's what my comps told me. I think i'm gonna try and switch it back to 10:30 - 6:30 this week. it's just hard cause if i want to stick up for something, i have to do it in front of 4 people most of the time instead of just me and my companion ha.
I've been trying my hardest to stay obedient though even if people are stilll awake at night or if someone stays in bed for a little longer. I'm trying to be a stickler for myself cause i don't want to get in bad habits. It's hard to get study time in too cause at times we have appintments in the morning so i don't get my full hours of study. I guess its a good thing though cause i would rather be helping someone or teaching someone than just studying for something. We got to help somebody move on saturday too which was pretty ufn too cause we practiced that vocab in the mtc haha so i generally knew what people were yelling at me to do hahah. just kidding everyone is so nice. I love the people here. They are always smiling and it makes it easy to just smile all the time even when i don't know what people are saying. I've decided that that is my most effective tactic thus far ;) The spanish are definitly nicer than the english. We work way more with the spanish too which i love! I like it cause i feel like i'm learning more and also they are just way nicer. Always getting us drinks and food and making jokes and laughing with us, even when we knock on their door for the first time.
I forgot to tell you that my daddy (puertas) used to play for the byu soccer team. He's sick! hah we've played on the streets a little bit with the kids in certain areas and he is so dirty haha. I think his brother might have been on Real Salt lake but i'm not sure. Anyway, it's great for contacting haha we just look on the streets for "brown people" ( i know it sounsd racist but he says it not me! haha). and then when we find them, usually kids, all we have to do is bring up soccer and we are almost guaranteed to come back again hahah. So far it's worked great. (I gotta brush up on my soccer skills). Anyway they say we have as much time as we want for email, but i think the official rule is just an hour so i'm gonna try and keep it at that.
I know i've sounded like a downer at times and that i'm frustrated and well i am sometimes but really i'm always smiling and making an effort to keep it that way. Each day has become more comfortable and i'm getting the hang of things a little better each day. I feel really comfortable with the spanish elders and they really like me. Oh and also i have to tell one more story! We were at bishop wertz house (the english bishop), and they had a guitar so my comps know that i play since we have a ukulele at our apartment that is my comps. Puertas was like bro play us something! I got all embarrased but i was like okay fine haha even though i wanted to play the guitar so bad i had to sound humble! Then he was like make something up, in spanish, oh just do the first vision. So i ended up reciting the first vision in melody with some progression that i made up right there and it was sick hahah. It actually sounded so good and the family was like whoa and same wth the 2 recent converts that were with us. Ha it was just fun to play for a second. I sing all the time in the apartment and stuff and puertas can play a cool song on the uke that i am learning to sing, so i think we are gonna try and sing it for members and get referrals from them after. So i'm trying to use my talents! hahah! Anyway, i really am getting the hang of this. I feel like a sponge right now and even talked with my comp about it. I think i just like to take everything in and then, when i know what i'm doing, i will use it all. So i'm slowly trying to transition and use little things i've learned but i'm still soaking in haha.
Keep praying for me famliy and friends i could use them. I could literally fall asleep at any time of the day haha but i am so happy to be here. My testimony is unwavering and i love talking to people about the gospel. Literally i'm sharing something that will change lives forever. My faith is growing and i'm really trying and working hard. We have huge plans for this transfer and know that we will meet them! These guys have had success here before so i'm trying to learn from them the best way to go about it. I love you all so much! Each one of you i think about at night before i go to bed. I'm praying for you and wishing you the best. Know that i'm so happy to be here and that i love missionary work! i love being a missionary! I gotta go but i can't wait to here from you all and i love you soo much! This is my new address for the next 5 or 6 weeks. You can all send letters here (please do!! i love hearing from peeps!) Emails are fine too if you'd like. When i have an hour, it's a lot easier to say everything. Love yoU!
1580 wallace road NW apartment# 255salem, oregon 97304