How y'all doin?
As always, thank you for your prayers, love, and support. I loved talking to everyone and thought it was so neat that I got to talk to all of my family and feel of your love. Tuesday we woke up at 3:00 A.M. and traveled all day. I just studied and slept on the plane ride. The Ashton's were waiting for us at the airport. We then drove to a church building where some other missionaries were waiting, broke up into pairs, and went "running". This is just street contacting or "OYMing" (Open Your Mouth). The very first person that I saw was Hispanic and I looked I my temporary companion and he just smiled, so I started talking to him in Spanish. That was fun. We then went to the mission home, wrote letters to our parents to say we didn't die yet, received training on the mission rules from the Assistants, were interviewed by President Ashton, had a testimony meeting with all the new missionaries, ate dinner and then went to some random apartments in the area to sleep for the night.
In my interview with President Ashton, he said, "Well, I already know you so we are going to skip all that. The only thing I want you to do is learn Spanish." He said that my trainer is the only native speaker that he had training and that he needed me to learn Spanish so that I can reach my full potential. He said that the mission is focusing on charity and he said to get charity. That was it. Three or four minutes with him and he told me all he expected.
Wednesday we had breakfast at the mission office, received training on cars and cell phones (I know you think I am spoiled Stephen and David), then received training on Texas. Dad, I wish you could have been there. You would have loved it. They taught us how to properly use the word "y'all" and explained that it can never be said to one person. They also explained how to use the plural form of the word, "ally'all". The man that did this training was hilarious. He is an eight generation Texan and he said that when he got married, he was worried about the mixed marriage since his wife was only a seven generation Texan. They take their Texas pride very seriously here. In fact, I realized last night that I am already warped because we were at the dedication of our chapel, and the bishop was speaking in spanish about this great country we lived in and I couldn't figure out if he was referring to Texas or America.
After our trainings, we met our trainers. I am with Elder Barajas. He is from Oregon but both his parents are from Mexico. We are serving in Houston. He only has three transfers left including this one. Our area is Houston 8. Pretty close to Sugar Land. We serve in a Spanish ward.
On Wednesday, we had our first teaching appointment and Elder Barajas told me that it was my turn to extend the baptismal committment. I did and it was incredible to know how much the Lord trusts me. We have had a busy week teaching and knocking doors. About half the people we talk to on the street speak English, so I spend half the day talking English and the other half Spanish. My own speaking ability has improved a lot, but what has improved the most is the ability to understand. Some of our investigators speak so quickly, it is insane. We have four people with a baptism date right now and hopefully will have two more after tomorrow. I have already seen miracles happen.
We just ride our bikes around and I just pray my heart out to Heavenly Father and right then someone walks by that is interested. It has happened multiple times and it is incredible. I know that He is guiding this work. One really neat story was we knocked on the door of a less active family and they weren't home. As we left, Elder Barajas saw someone to talk to so we pulled our bikes up to the driveway and began talking to him. He didn't respond but kept motioning to us. We walked up to him and saw scars all over his throat and head. He motioned that he had been shot in the head and couldn't talk. We asked if we could share a message about Jesus Christ. He motioned that it was ok. We then taught him for half an hour about the Atonement of Jesus Christ. We shared with him Alma 7:11-13 and bore testimony that He is not alone in his trials. We left him a Book of Mormon and set a date to return. I am amazed at how the Lord has prepared some people to listen. This man has hard trials in his life right now, but because of them he his humble.
I am happy and working hard. I see miracles each day. I just read the talk by Elder Callister today entitled "Becoming a Consecrated Missionary" (thanks Stevo) and felt inspired to do as he says and give my whole soul to this work. I know that it is true. The Spirit testifies of that constantly. Thank you all for your support and love.
I pray for you daily.