Where are you in Oklahoma?
-I am in Edmond Oklahoma! It is the wealthiest area in the great OK so everyone around here is rich and has a big/nice house! But it makes it harder to find new contacts because of the pride cycle I guess. Everyone here is religious so they lean unto their own understanding plus they all know the gospel already from their own church attendance and believe in Christ/God and because life is good and they are successful it is harder for them to see why they would need the Church to be happier in this life and why it essential for them to be apart of it for eternal salvation in the next life. I will be in this area for at least 12 weeks. Transfers are 6 weeks long and you are trained for two transfers! So I will be with Elder Balch for all of that time here in Edmond, the Edmond 3rd Ward.
I am at the library in Guthrie right now but this won't be where I usually write from!
How is your apartment?
-Haha the apartment is good but it is a little trashy, I have some work to do to clean it up so that it is a little better/nicer for the next guy. And our neighbors smoke and I'm pretty sure they smoke pot too so we can smell that every time we walk in but it is okay. There are worse places and worse apartments so I am very blessed!:)
What was your first impression of President Walkenhorst (besides that he is tall?) Are you still intimidated by him?
-So basically he is one of the coolest guys ever! We got off the plane and walked around the corner and he, standing at 7 feet tall, basically bent in half, gave every single one of us a hug! (Except for the Sisters, for obvious reasons...)
He is really funny and highly intelligent but especially in the Gospel! I really like him!
Where did all 30 of you new missionaries stay that first night you were there?
-Well he had to interview all of us so a lot of us he interviewed at the church until about 9:15 but not all of us were able to be interviewed so those of us that needed to still be interviewed stayed at the mission home that night so we could be interviewed (Where President and his wife live.) and that is also where the Sisters stayed. So there were like 16 of us at the mission home and then everyone else was split and went to stay where the Assistants to the President stay or with other missionaries in other places. We all met back up the next morning to finish orientation and then met our trainer/companion and learned where we were going!
How is your companion? Tell me about him!
-He is awesome. As soon as I was paired with him everyone started telling me how great he is so that made me even more excited and he really is amazing!! I will be his last companion of the mission because you spend your first two transfers with your trainer and this happens to be his last two transfers before his time is up and he goes home.
He was converted at 17 years old and decided to go to school at BYUI where all of his roomates were Return Missionaries and he really liked them and decided he wanted to be like them so he decided he was going to serve! His family didn't like that at all. He hasn't had really any support from his family and was actually kicked out of the house for 3 months after he was baptized. And he hasn't told me this yet but someone told me that his parents sent him some keys to a brand new like $30,000 car or something and told him it was his if he would come home and he sent the keys back. When he left he didn't know the difference between a bishop and stake president so he has learned a ton out on the mission! He also said he was really proud when he first got out and everything was just really hard for him and everything was just about him and he just really struggled with everything and everyone but you wouldn't be able to tell that if you met him now at all. He is Amazing. He works really hard which is just my style and I have really enjoyed the last week being his greenie. He is doing pretty good here and I think he is really glad to have me as a companion because I love to work hard and stuff and he hasn't had that in his last few companions so he hasn't been able to leave the apartment as much or do nearly as much missionary work. He said we have done more missionary work in the last 5 days than probably the last two sets of missionaries because pretty much nothing has been done since he left this area a little over a year ago. It is just unbelievable to me that that much time and work was wasted but now it is time to pick things up a bit and I can't wait to do it!
Have you been riding your bike?
-I haven't been on it one time. But it is a really nice bike and I actually look forward to getting to ride it!! My companion has a flat tire and for a medical reason isn't supposed to be riding a bike right now so we have driven or walked everywhere.
How are you handling the heat?
-I walk outside and I feel like I am hitting a wall and then I take a few more steps and it's like I'm taking another shower. But other than sweating a lot, it really hasn't been a problem at all! I have definitely been blessed to withstand the heat by Heavenly Father during my time here in the mission because I feel like I could be in the heat, serving/proselyting, all day here and I would be okay! It has been between 102 and 107 degrees for most of the week and on Saturday Elder Balch and I actually walked 10.5 miles throughout the day in the sun!
Did you get your packages from grandma and grandpa and us?
-I did get the package from them and I loved it!!! I also loved the cards from the cousins:) And the letter from grandma with the notes from our FHE was great.-I have the best grandparents, cousins and family in the world. I don't know where I would be without you and I love you all so much!
Your package is supposed to come today!
What is your new address so we can send things directly to you?
I'll have to run out and get our address because I don't know it yet. I am actually already on an exchange with an elder from my district in the area next to ours, Guthrie! So Elder Balch isn't here and I am not at our apartment to receive the package right now or tell you what the address is.-Loser-I know. Haha but I will work on it and I'll send you a letter home before next week!
Have you had to fix any of your own meals? Do you go to members houses for dinner?
-I have not fixed one single meal. A member has fed us every single dinner, three lunches, and one breakfast. The members in the ward here are amazing and so kind! Everyone is kind for that matter. Even if they aren't interested in the gospel they invite you in, give you a drink, talk with you, and are just so kind and genuine!! A few years ago the Church made a video about this ward because of how great they are with missionary work and fellow shipping and everything. I am just so blessed and can't express it enough! The tender mercies of the Lord are all around us and His hand is in all things but not only is it a little easier to see more of the blessings as a missionary, but I think the amount of blessings given are more as a missionary! Every house who answers will give us a water bottle or a glass of water or lemonade and many offer a snack and some offer rides and they are just so thoughtful and kind and giving. There was one lady who honked and waved in a red truck as we were walking on Saturday and no more than 5 minutes later a lady pulled up on the side of the street with her son in the passenger seat and she told us to get in.-It was the same lady from the red truck. She raced home to pick up her son so that we could get in the truck with her so she could drive us. Another family saw us walking and honked and waved and yelled at us to come get in and go to lunch with them! Like this stuff happens every day, all the time and I have no idea what I did to deserve any of it.-Heavenly Father is way to good to me and blesses me with more than I know what to do with.
Life is great here in Oklahoma and my time has been spent:
talking with members and their families-(also includes part member, inactive, and less-active families)
eating-(I'm trying really hard to diet well so that I don't gain weight...) serving people-(Helping people move, doing dishes, getting mail, little things like that)
and tracting/talking to investigators/giving lessons!
I am loving it and am so grateful for the love and support. May we all find the joy in the little things, keep our sense of humor, love life, acknowledge the hand of God in all things, and keep the faith to endure to the end.
With love and best wishes,