From: Robert Scoville <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: Happy New Year!
Here are my thoughts of what has happened since the day before I left the CCM. They aren’t very organized. They are more just written down. I tried to make it long for the blog.
Today (1-7-15) while I was out in the field, I got to meet some of the new investigators, or potentials at least, in my new, and first official area on my mission in Washington. My area is called, Lexington Spanish 2. My companion’s name is Elder Carpenter and he has been serving for 20 months. He is my trainer and we currently get along very well. He moves at a nice and fast pace, which is great for me. He is also very intelligent and experienced. And he is from Oregon which was entertaining to find out since I am also originally from Washington, which he found funny as well.
There are a lot of experiences that I have gotten to have while I’ve been out of the MTC or CCM for Mexico. The evening before I left the CCM, there were a lot of emotional goodbyes for nearly everyone. Nearly because I, and I say this proudly, did not shed one tear while I was at the CCM. But that does not mean that I didn’t feel the spirit. The spirit that everyone was feeling that night before we all left was one of both sadness and happiness. We were all feeling blessed for the opportunity that we had to get to know and learn from each other. That night, I decided to just not go to sleep since I was going to be getting up at around 1:30 am to be ready to leave by 2:30 am anyways. I was just afraid of sleeping in, and possibly missing my only way out of Mexico. I also just wanted a few extra hours to ponder my experience in Mexico for the past 6 weeks. I of course knew that I was going to have a major crash before my flight which was going to suck, and it did. When me and the other flying out of Mexico were waiting in front of out gate to board the flight, I literally began falling asleep while standing and almost fell over a few times. . .
Now skipping to when I actually arrived in California for my layover:
In the Los Angeles Airport, after my companion, the 3 sisters, and I had finally gotten through customs after over an hour, the first thing that everyone wanted to do was go find a pay phone so that we could call home. Elder Coombs and I of course let the sisters to first which was obviously polite but not the smartest idea. The sisters talked on the pay phones for nearly an hour, or at least 2 of them did. My conversation with my parents was short and simple. Then we all went to find food, since we were all so hungry. As I began to enjoy the meal that I had purchased for myself, I began to feel abnormally thankful for the food that I was eating. I may not have liked Mexico, and I may have already been grateful for the type of life I’ve been able to live, but living in Mexico for 6 weeks and getting to see and even experience a little of what it is like down there for myself has really made me thankful for what I have here in America, what we all have. It’s one thing to know that already from researching it or hearing about it, but it’s an entirely different thing to actually live in it for a period of time.
When we arrived in the Portland Oregon Airport after leaving Los Angeles California, we were greeted by President Taylor and his wife Sister Taylor, along with the APs for our area. We then loaded up the vehicles with all of our luggage and left for the Taylor’s home. When we got there, we literally got to eat right away, which was awesome, since all of us were very hungry. The meal that they served us was apparently a traditional meal that they had every time the Washington Vancouver Mission received new missionaries. To show how appreciative, and hungry, I was, I ate 5 servings of the meal. It was cheese filled rolls, salad. . . , and shredded beef. The meal was great and definitely filling. (And I did have salad with 3 of the servings). During dinner, President Taylor began having interviews with all of us so that he could figure out who we were all going to be trained by. When dinner was over, we all moved to the living room so that we could hear a basic introduction of some of the most important facts about the mission. We were told who to contact for what, how happy they were that we were there, some important rules to follow by the Mission President, and given our iPads, which I of course was most excited for. In regards to the rules that the Mission President told us, all he said was, “I do not believe that it is necessary for myself or any other Mission President to add additional restrictions and rules on top of what the First Presidency has already given us in the White Handbook, so, follow the rules of the White Handbook and you should be fine.” I paraphrased that of course since there is no way I could have memorized word for word what he said, but that was basically what he told us all in regards to the rules. I loved that. A lot. I really like the Mission President here because of the way that he put how we as Missionaries should follow the rules. The rules of the iPad were pretty self-explanatory. Use it for missionary work, don’t let it become a distraction from the work. Make sure when using any form of Internet your companion is near, etc, etc, etc. Something cool about the iPads though, is that at all times, we have access to our emails. We use the iPads to email which is why this is. This means that the Mission President simply Trusts all of the Missionaries to only use their emailing capabilities on their P-Day’s. My Mission President has honestly given us a huge amount of freedom, and is simply trusting us all to just follow the rules.
The next day, I got to attend my first transfer meeting which was very unique for me. It was like I was at a normal church meeting, but on a weekday. And, it was quiet since the congregation was full of only missionaries and no screaming babies. During this transfer meeting, I got to hear some very good talks, and stories from the Mission Presidency. Here are some of the notes on my iPad that I took just from President Taylor’s talk. I took the nots in points:
New Topic – Identity
1. Attitude = Potential Success or Potential Failure
2. Honest Confidence in our own abilities <> not arrogance in our own abilities
3. In order to do something or accomplish something, believe it first. Display faith not only in the gospel and its sub-categories, but also display faith in yourself and what you believe, or know, that you can do.
4. If we can trust the answers that God has already given, why not the answers that he will give. In other words, if we already trust the scriptures and their words, how exciting will we be when we receive our memories back after we die?
5. Realize we lived in the pre-existence for who knows how long.
6. “There is a pattern in all things”
7. Law of eternal progression – it didn’t start when we were born, but when we came into existence. It allows us to continue progressing (?) all throughout the eternities to come starting when we came into existence.
He Thinks: There are no coincidences. God does all things in order, not simply by something like chance.
8. We are of the very Elect. We will have to work, even diligently, in order to not make it back to the Celestial Kingdom. It is Not In Our Nature, to not act within accordance of the principles of the Gospel.
9. The opinions of others about us is not what matters. It is our opinion of ourselves that matters. We should strive to have a strong positive opinion of ourselves.
10. “As Good as each of us are, we are only as good as we get along with our companion.” – President Taylor
“Contention will not work, can not worked, and will kill the spirit” – President Taylor
If ye are not one, ye are not mine. – D&C
11. Focus on what we are here to do, not on the nit picky things within our companionships.
It was overall just a great meeting.
When the meeting was over and I had met my new companion, who is also my trainer, everything just went a little crazy. My new companion, Elder Carpenter, told me that we had a huge amount of work to do and to get ready for. I found out that the first thing I get to do it here it organize a new Branch. A Spanish one. My companion has told me that organizing a branch is one of the more difficult tasks that missionaries must persevere through, but he also told me that it will make for a great first experience for me, which I agree with. As of now, I think I have a pretty good understanding how much work we are both going to have to do to accomplish establishing a full branch.
In terms of my everyday activities out here in the field, I have gotten to have quite a bit of fun, and I’ve gotten to experience some unlikely situations. My companion and I have spent a lot of our working time proselyting since this is a relatively new area and we don’t have very many people to work with yet. While proselyting, we were obviously looking for Latinos since that is the language we have both been called to teach in, but instead we have found white person after person. Honestly, it’s around 10 White people to every 1 Latino. I was also surprised by how many people didn’t shut the door in our faces. There has literally only been 1 door out of 5 days of knocking that has been shut in our face, and it was the first one. Everyone else has either listened to our message at the door step, turned us away in an extremely polite manner, invited us to come back at another time, or let us in to teach them a lesson. We taught a lot of lessons to random people, and a few of these lesson just went amazingly. I’ll share 2 of them.
1. The very first lesson I actually got to participate in was an English Lesson. Elder Carpenter and I were walking through a dangerous area full of drug addicts and other things, when this white guy around our age had just left his apartment complex to walk down to the store to buy some groceries. We chatted with him for a moment to find out if he knew where we could find some Latinos, and he ended up inviting us to come back to his place right there to teach him and his 2 friends that he had over about the Gospel. I just though it was amazing that he turned around and took us back to his home instead of going to the store to get food since that was what he was in the middle of doing. When we got to his place, his friends introduced themselves and told us their opinions on religion and invited us to share and answer a Lot of strange questions that they all had. All 3 of these guys were between the ages of 18-22 so they weren’t old at all. But all 3 of them had Completely different view on religion. 1 of them had Christian views and actually believed a lot of what Elder Carpenter and I shared about the Plan Of Salvation, 1 of them was very philosophical about nearly everything he said and even shared a personal experience about how he was raised and about how he is very willing to hear the doctrine from a lot of different religions, and the 3rd one was down right atheist. Now on top of all of this, 2 of them friends had been smoking weed this entire time, so half of what they were saying in regards to their opinions was pretty bizarre and interesting to here. And example of what one of though was that God could be an alien since it is said that he “sent” us down to earth and that the second coming could be some sort of alien invasion of when God, the “alien”, returns to the Earth to gather all of the . . . And so on and so forth. As anyone can see, it was an interesting take on God and religion. Either way though, the lesson lasted about an hour,and there were a lot of scriptures shared, both in the Bible and Book of Mormon, and we even got to leave them with a prayer and Plan of Salvation pamphlet. All 3 of them agreed that they would love to have missionaries back over again. Now unfortunately, the spirit was not very strong in this lesson, but it was still there, a little, which in my opinion made that time well spent. Especially since we got another lesson with them.
2. Elder Carpenter and I were knocking on doors and came across this older women named Tammy who was in the middle of watching a Football game with her even older mother. The told us that she’d be happy to have us come in and share a message with her as long as we didn’t mind that she was drinking beer and smoking. . . Nevertheless we went in and taught her a lesson. A lesson which I think has been our most successful lesson in this past week. She expressed to us how much she hates people who say one thing and do another, especially hypocrites. She didn’t know what word to use to describe them, the word Hypocrite, but she knew there was a word for it. When I corrected her and told her the word, she all of a sudden gained a huge amount of respect for me for knowing that word and began listening very intently to our message, even while the Football game was still on. She gained even more respect when I told her how I am technically a Seahawks fan since I’m from Washington original. Now that we had he attention, my companion was able to share with her the message of the restoration of the gospel. He told the first vision as well, and that is what really won her over. I was surprised by how powerful the spirit could be in a situation like this. The TV was on and loud from the football game, there was smoking and drinking, etc. Tammy’s mother even began listening in once she heard Elder Carpenter share the first vision of Joseph Smith. When Elder Carpenter finished the first vision, Tammy shivered and rapped her arms around herself which was a sure sign for both of us that she had just been over whelmed by the spirit. She then asked for s copy of the Book of Mormon which we told her we would have to give to her a another time. The one we had, that was in English, was too small for her to read so we were going to have to get one with larger print. We then offered to leave her with a prayer and to come visit again some other time. She was so happy after that and said that she would love to have us over again, she even gave us a referral to go visit one of her friends in the apartment complex who she though would love our message and blessing. Overall, this lesson was amazing successful.
On Sunday, I had/got to share my testimony in the Spanish group at church, meaning I had to do it in Spanish. It actually went surprisingly well. I was told afterwards by everyone that my testimony was very clear for someone who had only been out for 5 days. This boosted my confidence in both myself and the spirit, because this means that I really am learning the language. My testimony in Spanish was about 3 minutes long which isn’t too bad.
I am also SO very glad to be making my own breakfast again. It is great to be having 3 eggs every morning again instead of beans and tortillas with no cheese. . . The member’s home that I am staying at is awesome. This home is huge and he has given us permission to use almost anything we want inside of it. The entire basement floor is ours. Him and his roommate also play League of Legends, which allowed me to get along with them extremely fast. I don’t know whether to consider this a blessing or curse for me. Because almost every other night when I get home from being out and about, I walk through the door and see them on their computers playing League. And their monitors are huge so I can see everything very clearly. . .
Either way, I am loving my mission so far. I have had very little issues with anything and I’m enjoying the privilege of being fed by members every single night.
Until next week.
Elder Adam R. F. Scoville