Monday, May 27, 2013

Las Vegas

Abram is in Las Vegas for a few weeks (with these 7 other missionaries) waiting for Mexican visa. 

For now, he is hanging out with these guys below and learning what mission life is all about.
Dearest Mother:

I wrote in the letter that you may or may not have received that I am in an English-speaking trio companionship. That's about all my letter told you because I wrote it as soon as I arrived at the mission home. My companions are named Elder F and Elder C - the Mission President was truly inspired of the Lord when he assigned my companionship. I have the great fortune to be paired with goofballs who are hard workers, who love to stay busy, who know how to teach people, and who are not socially awkward. We've had a lot of success in just my first week - families love us. I'll attach some pictures of my companions after I write. Elder F is the blonde one and Elder C is the black-haired one. They both like to make silly faces.

I am assigned in an entirely suburban area of Las Vegas... but really, Las Vegas is almost entirely suburbs, so it doesn't surprise me!  The first thing I noticed was how completely spacious Vegas feels. Compared to Portland and its maze of trees, Provo with the mountains (beautiful though they be) in such proximity, and the MTC with its prison walls and concrete walkways, Las Vegas feels like I'm drifting through space. I'm enchanted every time I ride in the car - I always roll down the window so I can look out for miles and miles into the open desert skies. It's so blue; as you know, sky blue is my favorite color, so I really like the feeling the openness brings. The vegetation here is 100% different from what I have seen before, too! It would interest Zachary a lot to learn about the three or four types of plants there are in Las Vegas.

I have been assigned to serve in a great area! It's pretty small geographically speaking and my companions are still amazed that I don't know my way around - at all. I even turn the wrong way down the street after we just walk into an investigator's house! The people here are interesting. Smoking is a huge problem in Vegas. After my companions learned I can't smell, they ask me to knock on the door of houses they know contain smokers, which I find hilarious. Elder C almost threw up one time, so I'm glad to spare all of us some trouble and take the heat of gaseous toxin smells.

I am very grateful for my companions. We all know how to work hard, so we have been extremely blessed. I don't like thinking of a mission in terms of numbers, but we met the standards of excellence last week. More important to me is that I truly know what missionary SERVICE is. I know how Christ feels as He leaves the ninety and nine to minister to the one. That's what the next two years are all about.

So far, I have learned a great lesson on my mission:

I lived such a blessed childhood. I was truly so blessed. After seeing for only a week how awful so many people's lives have turned out and the quality of life these children have to look forward to, I learn more and more about how much the Lord has blessed me. Here I am with the full ability to buy two weeks worth of groceries and just inform my parents about it where other people don't have the resources to buy a new light bulb for their living room. It makes me very glad thinking about this, because throughout my youth I loved you and Dad and treated you both with continual respect. I knew I was grateful for you, and the more time I serve on my mission my gratitude for my goodly parents will only increase. I am so happy that I loved and cared for my parents, because they sure took good care of me.

 Possibly above all else, thank you for teaching me how to be a hard worker. After countless of hours of clearing saws, lawn mowing, warehouse lifting, babysitting, taking care of siblings, cleaning, working, studying, a mission is not a difficult thing. You prepared me well.

I love you!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Favorite cousin!

Because today is my last non-Sunday, I get to email from the laundry room while I wait for my laundry. Normally I do that on P-days here, but missionaries are allowed to do laundry the last non-Sunday before they leave. Additionally, the Branch President gives missionaries permission to use email the day before they leave, so I will email both today and tomorrow.
I received a letter from some Church employee somewhere in the travel department that said not to email or contact the consulate directly. At this point I realize that Church travel is too overwhelmed with the missionary supply - they were not prepared to "Catch the Wave", as Elder Nelson would say.
Speaking of Elder Nelson, he spoke at the MTC devotional on Tuesday! That was a major plus of staying an additional week. If there were no other reason for me to stay another week, at least I'll always remember that devotional. He recommended that all the missionaries stay in contact with their converts by social media after they return home.
Your cookies actually arrived on time. I went to the post office right at noon - lo and behold, the shipment made it at 11:58. I'm not sure how that actually happened, but I definitely enjoyed the prompt cookies.
Sorry, I still don't have much to say again. The MTC has given me literally nothing to do. Today is my 5th consecutive P-day. To fill the time, I decided I'd challenge myself to read as much of the Old Testament as I could before I left. Right now I'm in 2 Samuel. You could say I've had some free time.
I saw cousin Alex today! In one of the hallways I saw Alex sitting on a bench talking to other Chinese fake investigators! I sprinted to close the distance between us and gave him a huge bear hug. He used a Chinese lady's phone to take a picture that will probably make it to your view sometime soon. I was very glad I got to see Alex before I left; yet another blessing of staying another week, I guess! I also managed to quickly sneak into one of his fake lessons .
I'll probably be able to write a little more later today. Today I at least have something to do on my schedule: Laundry, pack luggage.
I love you, Mom!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Viva! Las Vegas!

Abram will be sent to the Las Vegas West mission temporarily.  There is a Mexican consulate office there, and they will be able to give him a temporary visa so he will be able to go to Mexico.  He has to wait for an appointment to speak to someone in person at the consulate.  Who knows when that will happen?  In the meantime, at least he will have the LV mission office staff working for him to get him to Mexcio as soon as possible.  He flies out on  Monday morning.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


The way things go for Abram and for me, we are just grateful and pleasantly surprised when things actually happen the way they are supposed to, though.  We sort of expect things to go wrong.  It's just easier that way.  We have also learned through the way things comically fall apart for us that everything happens for a reason, and that great blessings usually come because things didn't go exactly as you had hoped.

Last I heard from Abram, he would be calling me from the airport on his way to his new assignment on Monday (yesterday).  I knew his visa was delayed and he would likely be sent somewhere in the states for a few weeks while they waited for his visa to be approved.

Well, on Thursday they told Abram that the church travel department, although they knew his visa was delayed and he would not be going to Mexico on time, had somehow forgotten about him.  They had forgotten to contact the Mexican consulate in SLC, who could have given him an appointment to come and get a temporary visa to Mexico.  They also forgot to send his name in for temporary re-assignment while the visa thing gets situated, and the reassignments are only done on Thursdays.

Sadly, it was his birthday when that all went down!  He said the worst part was that he knew on Thursday, and he knew that we were expecting him to call on Monday, but he would not get a chance to tell us about the change until Tuesday when he had p-day.

Yesterday he had to say goodbye to his amigos who all were legal by citizenship to go back to Mexico already.  He really bonded with those guys and it was sad to see them go while he stayed behind.

Abram is stuck in the MTC until next Monday.  He could really use some letters this week!  He is in good spirits, though.  He said what is keeping him sane rather than angry is " '2 Nephi 2:24, For behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things.' The Lord needs me to sit around and do nothing, without a schedule and without an assignment of any type, for an entire week."

So, we wait for news.  I should find out on Thursday where he will be temporarily re-assigned while the visa thing gets sorted out.  He will be sent to a US city that has a Mexican consulate, where he will wait for his appointment to request a temporary visa.  Hopefully he will be in Mexico soon.  He can't wait to get there.

In the meantime, he is choosing to laugh at the situation rather than be upset.  He has a week to sit, think and study.  Everything happens for a reason...I just can't wait to find out why!  Luckily for him, as one of seven kids, so he knows that things just don't always go your way, you have to be patient, and to just go with the flow!

You can send him a free letter at  Choose the Provo MTC, send a missionary a letter, and fill in the blanks.  His MTC mailbox is #89, Mission code is MEX-XLP, expected departure date is 0513.  I'm sure he would love to hear from you!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

First letter!

I have received all your letters by the DearElder service. I am going to keep every single one you send me and bring back a big pile in chronological order. I won't handwrite any letters... I've decided that messing with the post office here isn't even worth it, and from what I've learned of Mexican mail service, my letters wouldn't even make it back after I go to Mexico.
Anyway! I'll start responding to your letters. Those ones from DearElder are much easier to respond to because I can read them thoroughly before I email you, and I don't have to use any of my precious 1 hour of email time reading! Please use that as much as possible.
Yes, I am leaving on Monday. Where I am going is not determined yet because I am waiting on the Visa, but I will be leaving the MTC on Monday the 13th. Please pray that my Visa arrives on time and I can go to Mexico soon!
As to what the Mexicans think of my Spanish... they love me. Here are some various comments/conversations I have had.
"Were you born speaking Spanish?"
"You're going to walk up to investigator's doors and they'll let you in because they will think you're a glowing angel."
"Every single time you walk into a shop, you're going to make everybody's jaws fall open to the floor. And they'll stay there."
"Even though you're super white, you're a Mexican on the inside."
(introducing me to white people) "Seriously, he speaks more Spanish than any of us."
Basically my entire time at the MTC has been like that. It's what keeps me going. I'm so grateful that the Lord blessed me with the gift of tongues.  I understand every word, even though Spanish is the fastest language ever. I love it.
I'm having a blast with my Mexican friends! I am in a district of 6 Elders-- it is also the smallest district.
My companion's name is Elder D. When I first read his name, I read his name and I thought "NO!!! They put me in a class of white people who took Spanish in high school... May I die a painful death." Thankfully, THANKFULLY, that was not the case. Elder D's mother is Colombian and his dad works for the FBI so he spent most of his life in Mexico and Puerto Rico. Elder D is 6'2" and 240 pounds... not a tiny Mexican. He reminds me of Uncle Josh because he's so silly and goofy with the ability to be serious when needs be. My prayers were answered: I got a goofball companion for the MTC.
The other guys in my district are awesome. I could not have picked a better group of 6 people to keep me sane at the MTC. 
 I'm very grateful for my Hispanic buddies. They are awesome and we're a great group of Mexican brothers all together. As I said before, they consider me Mexican on the inside.
I'm currently unable to attach pictures because the MTC has supermodified its computers to prohibit missionaries from doing anything on them but this. There is no software and I'm going to have to figure out how to send pictures either later today or next week. Unfortunately, the MTC picked my P-day to be the only day that I will only get a single day to email you while I spend time in the spirit prison here, becuase I leave on Monday to wherever I'm going. Hopefully I can save some time today and figure it out later. But I will send pictures soon!
My flight over here was the best flight I've ever had - I sat next to Lonnie Stilson, who used to co-own Keith's gun store in Gresham! He and I talked the entire time about missions, the gospel, guns, all the best stuff life has to offer. What an inspired decision the Church made when it picked my plane ticket.
I can't wait for your cookies! Mis amigos are excited to celebrate my birthday and eat your wonderful galletas I have been telling them about.
Tell Zachary his letter was so sweet and cute. I love that little big guy. He needs to write me once a week my whole mission!
Please tell everybody to pray that my Visa comes soon. I would like to head straight to Mexico rather than spend 6 weeks somewhere else.