September 8, 2014
Happy to Arrive in Virginia
Hi family and friends,
Wednesday, September 3, was a crazy day for me. Elder McCall and I woke up at 1:00 in the morning, or 11 pm Arizona time, so in total I probably had about 3 hours of sleep. When I weighed my suitcases, I found that one of my suitcases was too heavy so I had to switch a bunch of things around to make it work. The CCM gave us a small breakfast of a lunchmeat sandwich and an apple. We left the CCM at about 2:30 in the morning.
There were two other hermanas with us who were flying to Dallas and then on to Washington DC. Our driver walked us through the airport so that we would not get lost. He dropped the Hermanas off and then found out that he had taken us to the wrong part of the airport for Delta airlines. So we got back in the van and went to a different terminal. We got to the Delta terminal to drop off our baggage only to find out that the Delta counter didn't open up until 4:30 a.m. We stood there for an hour waiting for it to open.
After we finally dropped our baggage off we went through the Mexican Security, which wasn't that strict. All they made me do was take off my insulin pump so they could put it through the x-ray machine. I tried to talk them out of it in Spanish, but they wouldn't hear it. Luckily, my pump is still working fine.
We got to our flight just to realize that our boarding time wasn't until 7:00 a.m. So Elder McCall and I sat down and tried to get an hour of sleep, but it was kind of hard because the chairs were really uncomfortable.
Finally, they boarded everyone on the plane. Everybody sat down and we waited for 10 minutes. After the wait, the pilot announced that the navigation system wasn't working and he didn't want to fly over the Caribbean Sea without it. He said he would try to get it fixed but our flight might be cancelled.
They loaded everyone off and then people rushed in line back in the airport to try to change their flights around. Elder McCall and I were worried because neither of us had been in a situation like this before so we just stood in line. Elder McCall and I said a prayer because we weren't sure what to do, and we asked Heavenly Father to either send us someone who knew a little English that could help us or that somehow everything would work out. Within a minute this Mexican guy got in line behind us. We started talking to him to see what he was going to do. He knew English so he talked to us and told us not to worry about it and that we would figure it out when we got to the front of the line. Elder McCall and I felt calmer after talking to him. That guy definitely asked our prayers. When we got to the front of the line we found out they were able to find a way to fix the plane, however the plane was going to be delayed and would take off 3 hours late.
We were able to arrange to get on another connecting flight from Atlanta to Norfolk, which was scheduled to land around 7:30 p.m. Then, the guy behind us told the booking agent that since our plane had been delayed, he owed us one free phone call. I had never heard of that before. Thank goodness he told that guy that. Elder McCall and I decided to use our one call to call the mission president. President Baker arranged to have someone pick us up at our later arrival time. Our prayers were definitely answered.
After we landed in Atlanta, we had to go through Customs. Immediately when we stepped off the plane, they had a bunch of German shepherds smelling for bombs. Each of us had to stop and let the dog stiff us, and all of our carry on luggage. After we got through that we presented our passport and answered a few questions from an officer who looked at our passport. After that we were officially back in the good ol' US of A!
We got our luggage and dropped it off again and then went through security again to be able to get on our other flight. I exempted the body scan since I can’t go through that with my insulin pump so I got a pat down. I got held back for even longer because when an officer wiped my hands to do a bomb check for an alarm went off. Then, they pulled me into a separate room and went through everything in my suitcase and did a thorough pat down. Finally, when they didn't find anything, they let me go.
When we landed in Norfolk, Elder McCall and I found out that our bags hadn't made the flight and they were still in Atlanta, but one of the workers for Delta told us that they were going to try to get them to our hotel by the morning.
We then drove to a church building in Chesapeake where we met the other English missionaries who had flown in from Provo. There was one Spanish Elder who went to Provo because apparently he was already fluent in Spanish since he had lived in Guatemala the past two years where his dad worked. We met President and Sister Baker and they seemed like really, really nice people.
I had an interview with President Baker and he told me that the fact that I had diabetes wasn't going to limit where he was going to send me in the mission, which sounds fine to me! We went to a hotel for the night and the beds were so comfortable compared to the bed I had been sleeping in the past six weeks in Mexico City.
Before I went to bed, I prayed to Heavenly Father and said a specific prayer that both of my bags would be at the front of the hotel in the morning with all my things in them still intact.
I woke up in the morning and went down to the front desk and my bags were there with everything in them, so my prayer had been answered. Prayer really is an amazing thing, and I know our Heavenly Father will answer them if it is according to his will!
We went to the transfer meeting where we got assigned to our new companion and our new area. I was assigned to work with Elder Remund. I have been assigned to Newport News/Hampton Virginia. My area covers the Southern and downtown part of Newport News and most of Hampton. There are only 6 people in our district, Elder Remund and me and 4 sisters. Elder Remund is the district leader. Elder Remund and I cover Hampton and southern Newport News. Two of the sisters cover the middle of Newport News and northern Hampton and the other 2 sisters cover the northern part of Newport News. The area that we are responsible for is really large. There are only a few areas where there are apartments or town houses in our area. Almost everybody in our area lives in trailer home parks. I’m sure a lot of you have heard of Hampton, and yes what you have heard is correct. It really is a ghetto. It’s nice to have a car and just be able to drive through the sketchy areas.
After the meeting my companion took me shopping to get the things I would need for the rest of the week and then we immediately went to Companionship study where we talked about the investigators in the area. There are 5 progressing investigators.
Edwin and Miriam want to be baptized but they can’t at the moment because they are not married and they have a son. They are getting married on December 20, and they will be baptized shortly after that!
Nazario wants to be baptized as well but he can’t yet because he is not married to his girlfriend and they have had a child together as well. In addition, he can’t get married yet because he needs an ID to get married however he was stripped of his ID when he got caught crossing the border and was put in jail. He also has a tracking device on his leg. He won’t be able to be baptized until he gets his legal issues resolved in late 2015. As a result, he hasn't been coming to church lately and scheduled appointments with him have been falling through.
Jeff is African American, but his wife is from the Caribbean and speaks Spanish. We are able to teach him in English because he doesn't know Spanish. Jeff is following the commandments that Elder Remund and his previous companion have taught him and he wants to be baptized. The thing that is holding him back is that he has not received an answer about whether the book of Mormon is true. On a lesson on Thursday night, we taught him how to pray with a sincere desire and we showed him examples of Book of Mormon prophets who prayed with a real desire and with faith. He said he would do that. On Sunday, Elder Remund and I fasted for him that he would receive an answer. We are having a lesson with him this Thursday and we are going to ask him if he has received his answer. If he has not received an answer we are going to ask him to pray right then and after he receives his answer we will ask him to be baptized.
Jesus P. has been really sick lately and so he hasn't been able to see the missionaries. He wants to be baptized as well, but just like Nazario he is tangled up with legal issues. He has been to jail many times, so Elder Remund is trying to get him an interview with President Baker. If everything checks out, then he can be baptized.
The last investigator is Daniel. Daniel has received some of the lessons from Elder Remund and his old companion, but recently he has been ignoring the missionaries. We just may have to let him go.
Even though they are mostly English speaker here, we basically only teach Hispanics. We have two cases where we are teaching two different guys in English because their wives speak Spanish but other than that all our other lessons are in Spanish. We have to hunt down the Hispanics in our area because they aren't really grouped together in any specific area. When we are tracting, and bump into people that aren't Hispanic, we ask them if they have seen any Hispanics in their neighborhood. We still mention that we are missionaries and talk to them. If they seem interested, then we get their information and pass it along to the English Elders in that area.
There is one other investigator I want to mention. He wasn't really a progressing investigator until I came here:
Elias is from Honduras and has a wife and two daughters. Elder Remund said that he contacted him in April, but Elias hasn't really been too excited about the lessons and had been missing scheduled appointments. I had the chance to meet him for a lesson on Friday. He seemed like such a nice guy. We taught him the doctrine in 2nd Nephi chapter 31. His family sat in with us too. It was an amazing lesson and the Spirit was very strong. I think he could feel it too, as he set up another appointment up with us on Sunday. On Sunday we taught him about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I taught him the principle of Baptism and then I asked him, "Seguira el ejemplo de Jesu Cristo al ser bautizado por alguien que posea la autoridad del Sacerdocio de Dios?" Translated to English I said, "Will you follow the example of Jesus Christ and be baptized by someone holding the priesthood authority of God?" I also asked him if he would prepare for baptism on October 4. He said yes to both!!! Elder Remund and I are really excited for him.
I had a cool experience on Sunday at church. The Latinos have their own small branch consisting of 70 members so all three meetings are held completely in Spanish. Luckily, I am used to having Sacrament in Spanish because that is what we did at the CCM for the six weeks that I was there. Since it was fast Sunday, the branch president asked all the new missionaries that had gotten transferred in the area to come up to bear their testimonies. I bore my testimony, in Spanish obviously, and thought I did a decent job. However, after Sacrament all the Latinos in our ward kept coming up to me and telling me how impressed they were with my testimony. They also told me that my Spanish was really good considering that I have only been in the field for 4 days.
The ward missionary in our branch is really cool. His name is Hermano Tucker. He is Anglo, but he is in our Spanish branch anyway because he can speak fluent Spanish.
Well, I am really excited to be here in the field and to serve the Latinos here in Newport News/Hampton area. I have had an amazing time here so far and I know it’s going to continue to be amazing. One thing I have learned these past couple of days is that D&C 18: 15-16 really is true. You experience so much joy as you bring others to the knowledge of their Savior and Redeemer and to the restored gospel. Elder Remund has taught me that you must talk to everyone. No matter where we are or whether the person is Spanish speaking or not, he talks to them and then gives them a Mormon.org card and asks them to check it out.
This really is a glorious work. Talk to everyone next Monday.
Me with President Baker and Sister Baker
Me with my new companion Elder Remund