First, some last photos from the MTC:
Saying goodbye to MTC friends
And now for this week's letter:
Greetings from Royal City, Washington!!
The last week has been insane as you can imagine! Tuesday morning I woke up at 2:30 in the morning to go catch a shuttle to the airport and fly to Seattle. I was supposed to be able to call my family but ended up getting caught in security for a long, long, looooong time. I even got a pat down! Because, you know, missionaries are very dangerous people! Then my bag and one of my friends' bags got checked and then the line for baggage was seriously long. We ended up almost missing boarding for the flight because all the security took like three hours. One cool thing though, was I was being super nice and patient the whole time, and one of the employees was impressed so he upgraded my seat to First Class free of charge! So that was pretty sweet. I got a window seat, a huge chair, and the whole row to myself.
I ended up getting a few more hours of sleep because the plane had a problem and the maintenance crew had to come and fix it. So we were sitting in the plane for about an hour and a half before we even took off. Then the flight was a little longer than expected because of weather. So by the time we got to Seattle we only had about 20 minutes before our flight to Yakima, so I hurried and called my mom really quick and got to talk to her for about 15 minutes. It was really awesome and I didn't even cry.
Then we got on this teeny tiny plane and flew to Yakima. The pilot spoke over the speaker "I wanted to extend a special welcome to the 20 missionaries we have on board with us today. It's an honor to fly you!" It was so cool! Then he came back and shook each one of our hands, looked us in the eye and said "Thank you for your service. God bless you."
The mission president, his wife, and 3 APs (Assistant to the President) came and picked us all up, and we went to the mission home. Sis. Lewis was taking tons and tons of pictures! Check out the mission blog to see them! Then we went to the mission home, which is gorgeous by the way, and we got to have a delicious home-made lunch (yay for no more cafeteria food!!) Then we went out on splits with local missionaries that have been here for a while. The sisters I went out with were very surprised at how good my Spanish was, so that was awesome. Then we went back to the home and had orientation about our mission cars, debit cards, p-day, schedules, etc. It was so hard to stay awake! I guess everyone else looked as tired as I did because then they let us take a nap.
The van they picked us up at the airport in (and also my sister, Libbie's dream car! HA!)
Me with President and Sister Lewis (Boy do I look tired!)
The sisters I went on splits with the first day
After my nap I started to feel a lot of anxiety. Not for any particular reason, I think I was mostly just exhausted and realizing, oh my gosh I'm a missionary... this is real life! So I went to Pres. Lewis and he gave me a blessing. It was amazing as soon as he was done I felt this amazing peace wash over me. Then we ate dinner (which was also delicious) and had some time to write a note home to our parents saying we got here okay, and some time to get to know each other a little better. There were a lot of new missionaries that are musicians, and the Lewises have a piano and guitar at their house, so we were all jamming. I felt 10,000 times better after that. There's something about music that just amplifies the spirit in the room so much.
The next day we had a delicious breakfast, which I got to help cook. (I love to cook and missed it so much at the MTC) Then we had some time to do personal study. Then we had a little more orientation about all the different areas and zones of the mission, and we all packed up and went to the stake center in Yakima for our first transfer meeting.
MTC friends, reunited in Yakima!
Hermanas Luevano and Knight
My new companion is Hermana Luevano. She is the cutest, sweetest, nicest girl ever. She always laughs at my dumb jokes, and she's really nice about correcting my Spanish or giving suggestions about where we should go. I have been really blessed. I love my trainer! She was born in Mexico but grew up in southern California, and her family has four daughters too! But she's number three. We have a lot in common, but also a lot of differences that really complement each other. We’ve already had some great teaching experiences and I can't wait for the rest of the next six weeks.
So I was put into Royal City, Washington, which is literally out in the boonies. The only store we have is Walmart, and it takes 40 minutes to get there!! Anyway, apparently the high school mascot here is the Knights, and we were in the state championship game this weekend for football (we won by the way!!) So everyone was already so stoked for that when I introduced myself. Everyone has been like "Oh you are so perfect for our town!!!" ha ha
We live in "downtown" Royal!
In our area there are two sets of sister companionships. We have two English wards and one Spanish branch. The other sisters cover the 1st ward, we cover the 2nd ward, and we share the branch. It's nice to be able to use my English a lot, but it is also super, super hard trying to switch back and forth all the time.
On Sunday we go to English Sacrament Meeting, Spanish Sunday School, English Relief Society, and then Spanish Sacrament. It was exhausting! The other two hermanas that aren't native speakers like Hermana Luevano said that I will be able to switch pretty easily in about a week though, so let's hope they are right!
Hermanas Luevano and Knight
Hermanas Luevano, Knight, Hall and Hirsche
The first night here we went to dinner at the Christensen’s house. There's about a million Christensens here, so we actually are four for four for Christensen dinners. Ha ha! And we go to another Christensen’s for laundry! I'm pretty sure I've met 7-8 Christensen families by now, but I can't remember for sure. Pretty much everyone here goes by their first name because they all have the same last name!
Hermanas Knight and Luevano at the Christensen's house for dinner
Anyway, at the first dinner, we get there and it's baked potatoes and rolls... so it was kind of awkward because I couldn't eat anything (a rare occurrence--usually I can eat something that is served) and then the sister called everyone in the ward and told them. The members here are so kind and sweet they all have been doing research on glycemic indexes and sugar levels of food! They have been so nice about preparing things they know I can eat, and giving us so much help! I love this small town feel because everyone is so humble and nice and we can just stop by randomly any time and they will invite us in and give us water, a treat, a warm towel, and let us use their bathroom! They literally drop everything and run to help us. It's so awesome! Also it's a farming town, so most people are pretty poor but SO humble and so prepared to hear our message! Even the owners who are really well-off are very humble and kind though, so I just love it here.
Wednesday night I got to play the Bishop's guitar! It was amazing. I almost wanted to cry because I had missed it so much. And then last night at dinner we were talking to this couple (bet you can't guess their last name!) and we really just felt like something was missing, like we needed to do something special to invite the spirit into their home. So then Hermana Luevano asked if I could play something on the piano for them. It was kind of crazy because she didn't even know I play the piano but she just felt really prompted to ask me for that. So I went over to their piano and played a really pretty song called "Liz on top of the world" the spirit was so strong after that! The sister actually started tearing up a bit. It turns out their daughter used to play that piano all the time, and now she's grown and moved out. She said her house has always seemed so quiet and lonely since. It was one of the greatest lessons we have had so far. It was so awesome for me to get to share my talents in this way. That's the whole point of being a musician. Not for attention, or acknowledgement, but to express emotions, invite the spirit, and comfort people in a way that nothing else can. It is my favorite way to bear my testimony.
On a different note, my comp doesn't drive, and it's been snowing here a ton, so that was a little scary at first. But I'm getting better at it. It also gets dark here super early! About 3 pm the sun starts to set! We named our car Ruthie. We figured she's a missionary car, so she should have a strong Bible name!
Oh! (A little note for my Texas peeps,) Jeremy Fielding's brother is the branch president of the Spanish branch, so that’s cool! His voice sounds EXACTLY the same. It's so weird! Kind of cool though. A little piece of Texas all the way out here.
Friday Hermana Luevano and I were out knocking on some doors trying to get to know the people in the community and almost knocked on the door of a naked man!! It was scary. Ha ha! Then we had a cool experience where we lost our phone and couldn't find it anywhere and were getting really concerned, so we prayed. Then suddenly, it just talked! It was on speaker phone and said "we're sorry but your call cannot be completed as dialed" it was right there on the ground covered in some snow! We picked it up and wiped it off. It wasn't even in the middle of a phone call and wasn't set to speaker phone mode either. God is so cool. We now lovingly refer to that experience as the "phone miracle".
A funny experience--one night we were teaching a guy named Jonny, a recent convert, and he is completely fluent in Spanish and English. But the lesson was at a Spanish member’s house, so Jonny and Hermana L were speaking back and forth in Spanish. Then all of the sudden Jonny started saying things in Spanish, then repeating it in English, then Spanish, then repeat in English. I was just like "?Por que usted hablando en espanol y despues ingles?" I thought he was just like, practicing or something, but he was totally shocked for a second and just looked at me funny. Then Hermana L said, "She speaks Spanish," and we all started laughing (including the members whos house it was)! It was so funny! I guess he thought I couldn't understand so he was translating for me. Ha ha! Anyway, so now it's gotten around the branch that I'm a solid Spanish speaker.
I've taught about ten lessons since getting here and knocked on a ton of doors, got two new investigators, and one person is set for a baptismal date! It's crazy how much the Lord is helping us out here. Even in the middle of no where.
Hermanas being silly
Decorating with the roommates