This week we went to pick up my bike. Which means good bye 24/7 air
conditioned car. The first day out was Thursday. We went for miles in
the hours between one and five in the Arizona sun. We had no success.
The longest we talked to one person was the old racist man who pulled
over to threaten to call the cops. I can’t say I was really looking
forward to the next day.
Friday morning we got a call from the Mission President. He told us
that the area that we were covering and the number of investigators
would double by morning. We took that as a sign that we were allowed
to use the car again.
Since then we have been frantically visiting all the investigators in
our book to let everyone know that we were there for them. I’d be the
last to complain about having too many investigators but I also won’t
admit that we aren’t a little stressed. We have five people on date to
be baptized in the month of September and about another dozen
Diego and Osiel (the two miracle investigators from last week) are
progressing. We taught Diego the first lesson and he responded well.
He even brought a friend to listen in. We had to refer him to the
singles’ ward elders so I don’t know if we will get to teach him
Yesterday we went to teach a man named Jesus, he had come to church
completely unexpected earlier that day. Before we even sat down he
started ranting about how his girlfriend lost all his money and broke
up with him. After about 35 minutes of this he turns and says “¿Qué es
su opinion? ¿Qué piensas que debo hacer jovencito?” I guess he hadn’t
quite figured out that I don’t speak Spanish so I rattled off an
answer and read a scripture about comfort.
This morning we got to hike North Mountain. It’s always important to
have a way to relax.
The gospel is strong here. Members and non-members alike are ready to
hear our message. We are blessed with plenty of people to teach. I am
grateful for my parents and young mens leaders in my life who helped
develop my testimony at home so I could begin focusing on my
investigators immediately. I can’t wait to let you all know how much
my investigators have progressed by next week.
I am great, the food is great. Some guy was walking around and gave me
an empanada at church yesterday. I think I could get used to this. It
is like going to Torchy’s every night. Eli would be jealous.
Thanks for all your thoughts and emails.
North Mountain 8/29/2016
Tuesday morning moved fast. By 11:00 I was leaving the transfer
building with my trainer Elder Cespedes. I met two other Elders in my
district, Elder Plourde and Elder Vidal, from Lima and Toronto
respectively. They are serving in the same Spanish ward as us. I
unpacked at the apartment and met my roommates, Elder Kartchner and
Elder Walton. After that we went out visiting some potential
investigators. No one was home. We went to a members house for dinner
and I realized I don’t speak Spanish. More visits after dinner, more
At this point you may be seeing a pattern of people never being home.
If you were, congratulations. That pattern continued until Sunday
night, 30 doors knocked 1 lesson taught. Elder Cespedes assured me
that this was extremely rare. We even took the advice of President
Griffin and took an ice cream break.
Sunday night was an answer to our prayers. As we walked back to our
car a random person asked us if we could read him something, we had a
great talk and he asked us where our church is. He lives in a
bilingual house and I am worried we are going to have to hand him off
to the English missionaries. As we walked away a car pulled up and
asked us if we had anything for him to read. My companion was in
shock. 2 people in 10 minutes. We ended up finding him in our area
book, he had been taught by the missionaries 3 years ago.
We cleaned the apartment (and the fridge) for an hour this morning then went to the local grocery home depot (Winco) then Burlington to do the only thing that could entertain missionaries, shopping for 6 dollar ties. We went over to some Elders in our districts apartment to hang and email.
We have a strong ward. They like to make fun of me, I don’t know for
what but I do know that every once in a while everyone turns around
and laughs at me. I am confident in my speaking but can’t understand a
thing. The dinner is full through the rest of the month. Last night we
had something called tortillas de papas. Which I decided was just an
extremely large french fry.
I wish I had learned to cook before I had left. If Seth thinks there
is no food at home he is going to struggle on a mission. I made an
omelet the other day. I’d like to think that he’d be proud of me right
We have a car. My companion doesn’t have a license so I have to
drive. The car is always trying to correct my driving, telling me I’m
going too fast. It only took me one day to get my first aggressive
driving violation. Looks like I’m going to need a bike.
We have lots of investigators and a couple of them are progressing.
I’m so excited to get out and really make a difference. Thank you all
for your emails and support.
August 16, 2016
Twenty other missionaries got off the plane with me when we landed in Phoenix. One of which was on his way home from his mission in Salt Lake City. President and Sister Griffin met the rest of us at the airport and took us to the mission office. There we met with senior missionaries and filled out paperwork.
We took a picture at the temple and when I say a picture, I mean A picture. As soon as the shutter clicked, President Griffin exclaimed, “Back in the cars!” and was already 15 yards away. They weren’t joking about the heat.
We are now at the mission home. We ate and heard from President Griffin and are now preparing for naps.
President Griffin tells me he will put me with a native Spanish and fluent English trainer. I can’t wait to meet him. All is well and as long as I don’t think about going outside, I am pretty excited. I love all of you and can’t wait to tell you more about the field.
I love and miss you,
PS. Pray I get a car. [Editorial note: Friday I received a call from Tom at the bike shop requesting payment for a $600 bike. We clearly didn’t get the prayer request in time.]
Derrick arrived in Phoenix on August 16th at 9am. We have not heard from him since then but thankfully we were given a glimpse of his first day from the mission blog. http://www.ourapm.blogspot.com. I’ve attached it here:
“After leaving a great group of Missionaries at the departure gates of the airport, we swung around the corner and picked up our next incoming group. There were 21 all total – 4 Sisters and 17 Elders. They were excited to finally be in the mission field and to arrive in Phoenix on a 110 degree day. Thank goodness for air conditioning. At the Mission Office they completed some preliminary paperwork, had a snack and were introduced to the office service missionaries. Then they were given a glimpse of the Phoenix Temple and then to the Mission Home for lunch, writing a letter home and a much appreciated nap. After the nap, there were training videos for bike and car safety. Then the traditional spaghetti dinner and more training. Early to bed to be able to rise Wednesday morning and get to the work of being a missionary.”
We can not wait to receive said letter. We are assuming since we didn’t receive it via email that it is coming USPS. We hope that his trainer taught him how to use a stamp (and provided it for him).
¡Hola familia y amigos!
The MTC is by no means a relaxing experience, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t find a groove. We get up at 6:30, eat breakfast, and exercise for an hour. We then have 3 hours of class, three times. Before lunch, after lunch, and after dinner. We have two teachers. Each teach a class, then we have personal study. Their names are Sister Evans and Sister Boyce. We practice teaching them and one other investigator named Sergio. They take the personas of investigators they had on their missions. It’s a good experience to see how the react to different ways we can teach. As long as you preach by the spirit it doesn’t matter what you say. We have also taught 2 members through skype and 2 in person. The 2 through skype were from Buenos Aires and the exotic town of Spanish Fork Utah. It is a lot harder talking to a man from Argentina than our white teacher from Indiana. Today I played soccer with Elder Mezzi. He is from Argentina going to Turkey. It is great practice to speak to someone who has no intention of speaking slowly for your benefit.
I love getting to go to the temple every week. An elder in our zone passed out family names for us to do. It looked like he had a stack of about 200.
Our district is great. We are already planning a reunion 2 years from now when we all get back. We all plan on going to school in Utah. I can honestly see myself being friends with these people for a long time.
There are devotionals on Tuesdays and Sundays. Which mean choir is on Tuesdays and Sundays. As long as you can get to one of those days you can survive. It’s a great experience to be in a choir that numbers up to 1500.
This week’s highlight was the worldwide MTC devotional by Elder Anderson. He talked about how to keep your spiritual light from diminishing despite the apparent monotony of the MTC and sometimes the mission. He talked about how to remain faithful during hard times on a mission. And that there are people looking for you. You just have to be worthy enough to find them.
My flight to Phoenix is Tuesday morning. For some reason I had the idea that I would learn spanish in the MTC… I have 6 days left and I’m not sure if that’s going to happen. Regardless I am excited for something new. The missionary training center is a wonderful experience but it is time for something new. I can’t wait to make a difference. It’s scary but super exciting.
Pray for my Trainer
Not much happened this week so I am going to take Elder Bednar’s advice and contribute less to my ‘large plates’ and more to my ‘small plates’.
Elder Ellinghaus and I got to teach the Elders’ Quorum lesson on Sunday about repentance. We read through Enos. When we got to verse nine someone brought up a good question. Have you ever prayed for someone else’s repentance, or to be forgiven? As I get ready to go preach repentance this was an interesting thought. I thought about people at school who I felt didn’t understand how much repentance could bless their lives. I keep them and my future investigators in my prayers daily. We focused on living with a repentance trait, rather than occasionally a repentance action.
Our Sunday devotional was given by the head of the church media department. He showed us all of the church’s first commercials and told us the stories about them and the gospel lessons behind the taglines. It was a very interesting and engaging presentation.
The Tuesday night devotional was given by Bishop W Christopher Waddell (Second Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric). He emphasized looking outward in service and the difference in serving a mission and just being on a mission. I can’t think of a better message for the people of the world than looking outward. The only way to become more Christ-like is to stop saying my mission is hard or knocking doors is hard and ask what The Lord wants. My favorite thing he said is that we don’t baptize numbers we baptize converts. I really have learned so much about what it really means to be converted.
Thank you all for packages and letters and thoughts. I love you all.