Mi Querida Familia,
If I were to describe this week...I would say it's been like stepping out of a nice warm jacuzzi and jumping into a freezing pool of ice.
This has been my first area change during my mission ever since leaving the MTC. I've been serving in South Oklahoma City for the past 2 and a half transfers that it had started to feel a little bit like home. Leaving the South was a tender experience for me. I said good bye to some great friends. You'll have to forgive me, I brought my camera today to send pictures home but I forgot the connector chord from the camera to the computer. But i've got some great pictures.
I'm going miss my companions Elder Vance and Elder Chapman. They've been great examples for me and I've learned so much from them. We'd become quite the team.
The South Spanish Branch has been incredible as well. They've been actively helping the missionary work progress. One of our best member missionaries has been Hmo Fabela. He's a recent convert from earlier this year from April and it's been amazing to have him bear his conversion story and testimony with the people we meet. I'll send a picture next week.
Now, I'm serving in the Northern half of Oklahoma City. I've noticed a few key differences. First off, the neighborhoods are Very much more wealthy than the South. And honestly its a lot harder to tract in neighborhoods with nice houses. They just seem to have an aura about that screams "don't bother me, I've got everything I need." I've felt thrust out of my comfort zone tracting in the North
The second main difference is that there are a lot more English speaking people. I never thought this would be a problem, but one of my biggest difficulties this past week has been speaking in English. I am a lot less comfortable sharing the gospel in English and offering prayers to people in English. Who'd of thought?
I've been so used to simply skipping houses that speak English because there were plenty of Hispanics to work with in the South. Now I have to pluck up the courage to start talking to people in my native language, and let me asure you...there is a HUGE difference. Because in Spanish you have this cushion of safety because people understand you are trying to learn a different language. Rejection has been a lot more common here in the North.
To give an example of how different the people are here let me relate one experience. Elder Morrell and I were tracting and we came to this one house. We knocked a few times and a man answered. We introduced ourselves as representatives of Jesus Christ and he immediately asked us to leave because apparently the last time we were there, he got robbed. We were kind of surprised because we'd never heard this excuse before. I tried to shake his hand, and Elder Morrell tried to offer a passalong card, but he simply blew us off and we walked away. As we walked away, he jumped off his front porch like he was cop or something and just stood in the middle of the road...staring us down as we walked from house to house. He then pulled out his phone and it looked like he was calling the police or something. Nothing happened, but gosh...why are white people so wierd sometimes?
But it turns out that the experience happened to be a blessing in disguise because when we knocked on his door, the people we had planned on visiting weren't at home. As we finished tracting that neighborhood, literally right as we were about to leave, the husband of the family arrived at home. If we had blown of this guy's house and left earlier than we had planned, we never would have had a chance to talk to the husband of the family. We had the opportunity to sit down and teach him the first lesson; this is significant because before hand, we had only been teaching the mom. Now, we've got the whole family in on the discussions and we hope that we can see progression soon.
Amongst many things, I've felt that I've adjusted pretty well. Even thought the north has been hard, I've felt the Lord strengthen me to have the courage to open my mouth and talk to random people on the side of the street. It's a work in progress, but I can see a difference between my confidence at the start of my first transfer to my confidence starting this new area.
i've been able to connect with the Branch pretty well. Their meeting starts at 8 am (which really hinders our numbers for investigators at church). But I got the chance to play the opening hymn for the congregation. We sang "How Firm a Foundation" and needless to say I played as loud and lively as I could to help animate the audience. It was pretty fun.:)
My new district is awesome! Elder Fales is our district leader and he actually was the guy who took me tracting my first week in the mission and he was also trained by Elder Black. That literally makes him my brother.
Elder Morrell is my companion and he is awesome! He was my MTC companion and it's cool to see how different he is from when we first met at the MTC. His spanish has improved as well and his zeal for obediance is something I can emmulate a bit more. He actually likes to listen to Motab, which is awesome! My last companions didn't have the best taste in music (still love them:)). and he is very focused.
I'm excited to serve up in the North. We get new transfer assignments this upcoming Sunday so it will be interesting to see if I stay here or go somewhere else or if Elder Morrell leaves. I hope not! I can't imagine serving here without Elder Morrell. I hardly know the area.
My testimony is still as strong as it was before and it has giving me great strength in coping with rejection. We know our message is true, and we know that very few are going to accept it. Our job is to work dilligently, uplift the Branch and look for those that sincerely desire to accept the restored gospel. Actually, that's not wholly correct: Our purpose is to INVITE others to come unto Christ by helping them recieve the restored Gospel mediante Fe en Jesucristo y su Expiacion, el arrepentimiento, el bautismo, la recepcion del don del Espiritu santo, y el preseverar hasta el fin.
Gracia por toda de su apoyo. Esta iglesia es verdadero. El poder del Espiritu Santo y Sacerdocio son real y pueden llevar a cabo muchas milagros. El norte tal vez es un poco despacio en relacion de otras areas, pero hay esperanza. Tengo fe que el Senor me ayudara y fortalecerme con mis affliciones. Como evidencia, yo he visto a El darme fuerza en una manera que yo no imaginaban antes mi mision.
Que Dios le bendiga! Hasta la proxima semana!