Texas McAllen Mission Attn: Elder Brett Mecham 200 West La Vista Ave. McAllen, TX 78501
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
First Letter Post-MTC
FYI: Brett has been sent to the St. George, Utah mission until his visa for Mexico comes. We've been told it shouldn't be too long, which is why they've kept him in Utah for the time being.
I am here in St. George! Wow it has sure been quite a week. I don't know where to start. How about from the beginning?
So, Elder Fowler and I met up at the Travel Office last Tuesday (1/11/11) at 6am and took a shuttle to the airport and boarded a tiny 30 passenger plane and landed here in St. George about an hour later. A senior missionary who works at the mission office met us there at the airport and took us straight to the mission office where we met the mission president and the senior missionary couples who worked there. All are great people. Then we had a condensed orientation which usually takes a few hours, jam-packed into about an hour or so. After that, my new companions picked me up. My companions are Elder Carpenter and Elder Hayden. They are the best. Elder Carpenter is from Montreal Canada and only has a couple more weeks left on his mission. He's an avid hockey player (we play every other morning) and a really funny guy. He loves to joke around, but he's an excellent missionary. He was an AP a little while ago and now he and Elder Hayden are the Zone Leaders. Elder Hayden is from Oregon and loves to pretend that he's amazing at hockey. He actually is pretty good, me and him are about on the same level, and we both like to pretend that we are all-stars. He graduated in '09 like I did but went straight on his mission. He's a couple months older than me. So yeah, I got two great companions.
After I met up with them though, we went straight out and started teaching lessons. These people are machines. We teach an average of about 9 lessons a day. It's really good practice for me. The first day, I don't think I said a single word though except for Gracias, hola, and maybe an hasta luego here and there. My tongue seemed to be in a knot the first day, literally. I tried to untie it but it must have been double-knotted. I eventually got it untied because I am talking now! Still not a whole lot, but I am progressing. It is sort of difficult to get a word in sometimes since there are three of us but Elder Hayden and Elder Carpenter are really helping me have the chance to speak. I originally thought that they would just want me to sit there and not say anything in fear that I would mess things up, but they are always trying to get me to say something. Now though, our lessons are going much smoother and we all speak when it feels right.
We have some great investigators though. It sure is awesome teaching real people. I am getting to know them all and it is nice building those relationships. Some sad news though, one of our investigators, Monica, was supposed to be baptized this past sunday but it fell through. Her boyfriend was supposed to move out of the house but because of financial problems, he hasn't moved out yet. He is out of work and Monica is struggling to find work. The good news is that Monica told her boyfriend that he has to move out because she wants to be baptized, but they are just having some difficulty working things out. Sunday night, we went to her place and she wasn't there but her boyfriend was and he came out and talked to us and he even told us that he knows that she is doing the right thing and he wants her to get baptized, but things are difficult right now. So anyway, we still have hope that she will eventually be baptized. In the mean time, we are trying to help them.
One of our progressing investigators is named Sae and finding her was a cool story. About a week before I got here, Elder Hayden and Elder Carpenter were knocking doors and when they knocked on her door, she said "I'm in a hurry but please come back! I want to talk to you guys!" So of course, they went back and it turns out she was waiting for someone to come talk to her about God. We are currently teaching her and have almost taught her all the lessons. She always reads the things that we assign her and when we ask her if she understands everything, she always does. She really has a strong desire to learn and do what is right. We are so pleased with her and her progress because we have other investigators that just aren't really trying. We have quite a few that let us in but don't read anything we leave them, clearly aren't praying to know if these things are true, and don't really participate much in the lessons. I think they just let us in because they are kind. I hesitated to use the word kind though because they really don't show much kindness. It's almost like they are scared not to let us in. It's hard to explain. Many of the investigators we have are from this trailer park and they are all very humble but all very timid and quiet. Sae is from the trailer park though and she is wonderful.
Man, I want to describe all of our investigators to you because there are so many more! We have about 20 right now. That's why we are teaching so many lessons. I have had the opportunity to knock some doors though and that's my favorite thing. Elder Hayden and I found one just the other day named Olivia and she is from Chiahuaha Mexico and we are coming back on Thursday. I would really like to be able to find an investigator here and see them progress towards baptism, rather than just continue with those that were already investigators when I got here. I guess that depends on how long I am here. Honestly, I don't care how long that is. St. George is awesome! I love it here. I've worn my suit jacket once here and that was because it was Sunday and we had to. Today actually we took off our sweaters because it's so nice out and we are just wearing our white shirts. I could even go short sleeve. Pretty lucky eh? Elder Wallace and Elder Dickson are probably freezing their butts off in Salt Lake. HAH.
We get up at 6 every morning to exercise. We rotate every other day between working out at the gym and playing hockey. We got a key to the Dixie High School gym so we work out there before school starts and we play hockey in the church gymnasium. Hockey is my favorite. We played for hours yesterday since it was P-day and it was such a blast (P-day is on Monday for us, but because it was MLK day, the library was closed). Elder Carpenter is the best since he is Canadian but there are quite a few others that are really good. I scored 4 goals yesterday. No biggie. The nights sure go by fast though. Even faster than in the MTC. I am DEAD tired at night though! I often don't recall getting in bed. I just hear the alarm clock go off at 6am and wonder what happened to the nighttime. I love what I am doing though. I love teaching real people. My testimony has really grown seeing people who were unfamiliar with the church keep their commitments and gain a testimony of their own. Maria Avelar is one of our investigators and we asked her to continue reading the Book of Mormon and read 1 Nephi:7 by the next time we meet, and she was like, "Yeah I can do that but is it alright if I read a little more?" She's awesome. She has a baptismal date for February 12th but I think she'll be ready before then. We'll see how it goes.
One thing that is really cool about St. George is meeting the Spanish people from many different parts of the world. In Monterrey I'm sure a lot will just be from Monterrey or close by, but here there are people from all over. We were knocking doors Saturday and we met a guy named Jason and he's from El Salvador and we set up another appointment with him. For some reason Elder Hayden likes people from El Salvador. But anyway, I think it is just totally awesome to be able to be here in St. George. My Spanish is improving, but I'm excited to go to Monterrey where it will improve even more. We don't really speak much in Spanish outside of lessons. Elder Carpenter and Elder Hayden are really good at Spanish so obviously the language still comes even when not completely immersed in it, but that's what I am really looking forward to: immersing myself and being stuck if I don't know the word in Spanish! We never really even have time for Language study in the morning because we usually have lessons to go to, which is unfortunate, but I am learning a lot from the lessons. It's funny how I thought I could understand Spanish pretty well when I left the MTC, but the people here speak WAY faster! It's ridiculous! I am just beginning to understand what they are saying. I guess my teachers took it easy on us, and slowed down. But I could understand the natives in the MTC! I think it's because the people here aren't speaking just about Gospel stuff. They are using real-world vocabulary and I don't really know that yet. Ugh. Well, it will come.
Alright, my hands hurt from typing. I can't imagine what I would do if I had to write this as a letter. I guess computers haven't been around forever though. What did people used to do?