Oh man I miss you guys like crazy. Try to email me by Sunday night so that I can have it received by the time we email on late Monday mornings/afternoons (Monday is our Pday)
Here is my apt address: 1201 NW Tahoe Apt #204 Silverdale, WA 98383. If you sent anything to the mission home I won't get it until the zone conference at the end of the week. They don't forward the mail from the mission home. It has to be picked up by a zone leader or someone that would have reason to go there. It has been hard to not hear from anyone this past week. I went from getting mail everyday in the MTC to nothing out here and the contrast is stark. I think I am going to only open my mail on Pdays instead of during the week so that I won't get as distracted or homesick. And believe me, this week was TOUGH. I don't feel homesick persay but I think about you guys every...single...day..and...several...times...a...day. I miss the support of my MTC district. It's hard only being with your companion. Seeing other people that are also on their missions or in the same phase of the mission as I am would make the days a lot easier, but unfortunately that is not really a common occurrence here. I will get to see my old district at the new missionary meeting that isn't until next Tuesday. Until then I will have to get to know and break into the tight-knit new district of mine. We are all at the library right now emailing and just before this we played a couple games of ultimate frisbee. Something I normally never would have done or played but figured I needed to show that I was making an effort to be apart of the group. They play all the time and are pretty good so I was nervous I would look like an idiot. Luckily, I wasn't too bad and even assisted on some touch downs/goals.
So I'm sure you are all dying to know about my first week. So I will tell you!! I am serving in the Silverdale 5th ward (YSA ward) and the Silverdale 6th ward (family ward). Silverdale is on the Kitsap peninsula right next to Bremerton. So the area and towns here are very navy oriented. A lot of navy/serviceman jargon and lingo has been tossed around this week so I feel like that is a big part of the local culture that I need to get to know. Seems like everyone out here is currently active in the service or a veteran. So with ties to the navy a lot of people have ties to San Diego as well since that is where a lot of them have been previously stationed. Having things in common when you are meeting people for the first time or teaching someone is CRUCIAL. They might not want to talk about the gospel but if you have a common interest they won't be unneccessarily mean or rude to you.
It seems like I have had some kind of crazy tie, connection, or mutual friend with almost everyone I have met so far. A lot of Filipinos out here so they all are very curious and more receptive to my companion and I when we are out tracting. In fact, we have three potential investigators that even opened the door or gave us the time of day because of me being Filipina. One lady named Susan was just about to shut the door to my companion, Sis Mills, but then right before she did she looked at me and asked me where I was from. We got to talking to her more and she said she had a neice who was Mormon and that she would consider going on a church tour. Out here we knock doors between 5-7pm and the goal or objective is not to get invited in to begin teaching but rather to invite them to take a tour of the church building in which shorter versions are given while walking through the buildings. I can't remember if I mentioned this already but it is unique to this mission and has proven to be pretty successful. We were taught in the MTC that if you have spiritual experiences with your investigators they will progress and commit to baptism that much easier and faster. We met two other Filipino potentials that happen to live right across the street from eachother and are from the same part of the Philippines. I think the name of the city is Iilolo. I could have just slaughtered the name and the spelling. Anyway, one guy is 30 and in the navy and his sister is actually a member and attends the Kingston ward with her family. The other potential is named Freddy and he and I think one his kids and his grandkids all live together. When we were tracting he was working in the yard. So we told him we would come back in a couple days to check up on him and offered to help with the yardwork. He was floored when we actually did come back a few days later and could not believe we were actually serious about coming to help him pull weeds or rake in the yard. He literally was dumbfounded. When he found some words to say, he simply just said, "You two are so sweet. Thank you for your kindness. But I cannot make you do that." We told him that he would not be making us do anything and that we are offering to be of service to him. He said he would call us whenever he needed help. I really hope that he does.
Mom, I met someone that paddles!! We were going to visit a Less active member of the ward, Brother Elkington. On paper he sounds like a middle-aged white guy with the first name of Steve or something like that. At least that is what I imagined his name to be or what he looked like. But I was suprised to find that he is from New Zealand and grew up in Laie, HI. He made mention of paddling and he was even wearing a paddling shirt. I told him that you paddle and he thought that was so cool! He is in a club that mostly competes with teams from WA and Oregon. He has never made it down to California for a race but he told me that his dream is to race in Hawaii. I told him that was yours too. He coaches a few teams in the club including a junior team. He said all his kids paddle. He even is a steersman. He showed me his paddles, all wood from HI. Super neat guy. His wife is a nonmember and went to BYU Hawaii. She went there on a volleyball scholarship, but the entire time she was there her family anti-ed her against the church. She is a tall samoan lady that apparently does NOT care for missionaries. I have yet to meet her but hopefully she will soften her heart in time. Sister Mills thinks that I am the perfect missionary to reach out to that family, because I know what it is like to have a part member family household and we have other little interests and things in common.
Ok, something gross. Everyone out here has dogs. EVERY SINGLE HOME we have visited has dogs. Not (a) dog but dog (s) plural. Several. And large, slobbering, shedding, jumping dogs. It's awful. They smell like wet dog all the time, because we are in washington and guess what? It rains. Meaning perma-wet dog smell. I have seen dogs that resemble small bears. One family that we taught had a Blue Mastif. Google it. When I went to sit down on their couch I was appalled at the slobber and drool stains that had dried and crystalized over all the cushions. I wanted to gag. I also wanted to find a pillow or something to place between the couch and my skirt, but all of those had slobber too. Every door we knock on when tracting has several yips, barks, and running of feet soon after we ring the bell. Calling card of death.
Also, we are serving in a very woodsy area. Many of the neighborhoods and places that we tract down have gravel roads and there is a lot of space and land between each home. Rusted and broken down clunker cars sit on people's front yards like metal lawn gnomes. We joke about that. Either the houses are super recluse and kinda ghetto or they are totally nice. And they can all be on the same street. We have only gone to a few homes that are super nice. Most are just run of the mill homes. The weather has been pretty consistently gray. Not super rainy but enough to be dreary. I am cold all the time. It doesn't really rain too hard here. I guess because it rains so often the precipatation is lighter.
We had that baptism this past weekend on Saturday for Mac. It went well. He is a super stocky guy and not particularly guy so he had a hard time finding a baptism jumpsuit that fit him. So he decided he was going to buy white clothes of his own. I spoke on the Restoration while he was changing. I was asked to speak for approx. 10 min so when that time elapsed and he still hadn't come out, they sent someone in to check on him. I guess the dry shirt he brought to change in to was the wrong size. One he no longer fit in. So he couldn't even button it up and he ripped the sleeves when he tried putting it on. So he had to come back out in his damp white baptism shirt. You couldn't really tell though that it was still wet. Super funny. My talk went super well. My companion said it was very powerful.
We ate at one member family's home the Beck's. They have the cutest house in the middle of the woods. With the largest Bernese Mtn. Dog I have ever seen. they have 4 kids and they adopted two kids from china. The boy they adopted is named Simon and his Chinese name is something long and hard to pronouce so they call him Shi-Shi. I told sister Mills that shi-shi in Japanese is to urinate. Or is that in Tagalog? I don't remember. All I know is that growing up, Shi-Shi was referring to pee so that sounded super weird to me to hear all these people call hime that. He is seriously the CUTEST little kid though. I'll have to send a picture. Speaking of pictures. I cannot figure out how to email pictures on these computers. Maybe I'll just have to print some out today and mail them home. Shauna, do you think that you could scan them onto the blog? The dad is a marathon runner and he is trying to qualify for Boston, too, mom! He said he needs to shave 5 min off his time and I told him you were in the same boat. We have been going running in the morning for our exercise. I silently cry every time because it makes me miss you, Mom. I would rather stay in the apt and do stretches so that I could have at least one day that didn't begin with tears.
This has probably been one of the hardest weeks of my life. The hymn, "I Need Thee Every Hour," pretty much summarizes my feelings. I have never before in my life relied on the Lord to help me make it through each and every hour of the day. I feel exhausted in every sense of the word. Missionary work is tough. It is awkward. It's uncomfortable. It's inconvenient. It's long. It's tiring. The only way I can make it through the day until we come home at 9pm is constant secret prayer. I have been getting pretty bad headaches throughout the day from all the suppressed tears. But things are getting better. I'm trying to be stronger. People probably wouldn't guess that I am having a hard time because on the outside I appear fine. I am pretty confident in my teaching and can carry on a conversation with people. But inside I feel far from home and my heart is troubled. My companion has been out for over a year and goes home in December. The side by side comparison with me being only a week seems daunting. The thought of not coming home till NEXT December seems to far away and so impossible. The thought alone makes me tired. But I have carried onward and forward each day that comes. For now, I can only look at my mission minute by minute and hour by hour. Because that is what it takes to get me through the day.
There was a video that we watched our last day in the MTC. It was a talk by Elder Holland and he spoke about our roles as missionaries. He said the most common question he is asked by missionaries is "Why are missions so hard?" His was response was "Because they have to be. Salvation is not a cheap experience. It was never meant to be easy. It never was easy. It is not supposed to be easy. It was not cheap, easy, convenient or painless for the Son of God. If I am going to be a missionary, a witness, a follower of Christ, how dare I not expect to feel even a fraction of what He whom I am representing did. A gift was given in the Garden of Gethsemane. A price was paid on the hill of Calvary. To be a true disciple of Christ, I must be willing to take on even a tiny particle of what He went through.To stand faithfully and tall in suffering. In crying. In adversity. I must suffer the will of the Father, even from the beginning."
And I really haven't even had it as bad as others. People haven't been too rude. No one has yelled at me yet. People have been less than polite but nothing too obscene. There were some elders that got a dog bowl of water thrown on them by a man at his door. One sister was spit on in the face. But as sad as those things are, I am more sad when I think of the people that did that to the Savior. And how He still loved them. So must I.
Write me, family!!! Dad, I miss you so much. You don't even know. I think and pray about you all the time. Pray for me. I'm sure you have. I miss you all so much and I am so grateful for eveything you have done for me and continue to do for me. I have been given so much and I never want you to think that I don't appreciate you. Scott and Jill I miss you and brag about you all the time to people I meet and teach.