My dearest family and friends,
Well, here I am....in GEORGIA!! I'm finally a REAL missionary. It's insane! There is SO much to tell!!!!
Travel - okay, this was one of the BEST parts of my day. My plane was delayed an hour, so me and the other two missionaries decided to...well...be missionaries. So we started talking to this guy, and he accepted a Book of Mormon. Dude. That was cool. I was surprised he understood our Spanish. It was really fun though. That was my first experience of being a real missionary. So, I arrived in Georgia, and after I went through customs, all the other sisters who arrived the same day came and met me. I was the only Spanish sister of the 6 of us. We drove to the chapel where we usually meet that is by the mission home, and we were greeted by our wonderful Mission President and his sweet wife. Sister Mason (the mission nurse who picked me up) told me that President was really excited to meet me! Apparently it's because I'm a Spanish missionary. There are only 5 total sisters, and 6 total elders in the whole mission that are Spanish. Wow. That is NOT what I expected. So they were really excited when I came. We spent the whole evening doing "new" missionary stuff. Then, all us sisters got to spend the night with the Haskins. He is the stake president of the stake by the mission home. That was SO fun. Their house is HUGE. They live in a forest....no joke. It's beautiful.
Georgia....wow. It's GORGEOUS here. There are trees....everywhere. Georgia is pretty much a giant luscious forest. It's also very humid. It's always 80ish degrees...but it feels WAY hotter than that. It's beautiful though. It's also very flat. I miss the mountains :( It's all good though. The people here are SO nice. You literally can walk up to people and say "hello, we represent Jesus Christ, and we would like to pray with you." they'll say "Awh! I love Jesus! Praise Jesus! Yes, yes, let's pray. Let's all pray!!" Then we'll pray and leave a blessing with them. It's amazing. We went grocery shopping last week and ran into this lady and helped her with her shopping cart. Imagine her speaking with the most black/southern accent you can imagine. "Y'all were sent here by God...God sent you here to pray with me, and tell me everythin is gonna be alright. Praise God. Praise y'all. Let's pray" Then we all held hands, prayed, and got her number to refer her to the English missionaries. Crazy sauce. These people love Jesus. They are SO open to listening. This mission is incredible.
Companions - so I am in a trio, since there are only 5 sisters. My trainer's name is Hermana Gallardo (guy-yar-doe) and Hermana Stewart has only been here a transfer so she is still being trained. Our area is called the Chamblee area. It covers about 9 area's worth of English missionaries. Since there are so few Spanish missionaries we teach SO many people. It's insane! We teach at least 4 lessons a day in their apartments and then we call and have other lessons in between travelling to other appointments. Wow.
Teaching - holy cow. It's incredible. We currently have 9 progressing investigators and at least 12 less actives we are working with and about every other day we meet someone new through street contacting, or a referral from someone we are currently teaching. We are SO busy. It's insane! I love it though. It helps me to be busy. Sally and Jessy are twins, both 9. They are going to get baptized on the 29th of August. Wow. What a way to start a mission!! Their mom was a member, but now she doesn't go, so we've been working with her kids, and they've been on date now for a couple weeks. They are SO excited, and the branch helps get them to church every week. They are the CUTEST things on this whole planet. The parents don't know English but the kids do because they learn in school. They actually prefer English. So yay! I get to actually understand what is going on! I would explain every investigator but I don't know them that well since I've only been here for 6 days so I will talk about the people more next week.
Language - struggle. That's all I'm going to say. I thought I could at least teach a lesson...but no. When both your companions know the language fluently, you just kind of sit there and smile - it's challenging. Really. I know I don't need to know the language, and I know everyone says that your mission is not about how well you know the language but when your companions are fluent you can't talk at all. You can't contribute very much. The only times I've contributed are when I specifically ask for the chance to talk, or interrupt them. But I feel like interrupting drives away the spirit. It's hard. Being in a trio is hard. I don't have a desk or a bed since I awkwardly joined in, but it's okay. I'm not at home very often, and I'm here to work, not be best friends with my companions. I'm sure when I learn the language better I will be able to contribute more. I do have one cool story. Since I'm the new missionary, I have to invite someone to baptism in my first week. So, we were teaching Ana, she's a referral from Salt Lake. I told myself I'd only ask her to be baptized if the spirit told me. During the first lesson, we were talking about the 3 gifts, and the path to eternal life. When we were talking about baptism, I knew I needed to ask her...but I didn't because I thought that was dumb to ask her on the first lesson. Then we moved on. I had this awful feeling of guilt. I heard a voice tell me that I needed to ask her to baptism before we left so at the end, my companions were going to ask if we could close with a prayer. I stopped them, and in the best Spanish I could I said, "I know my Spanish isn't good. But, I know one thing. This gospel is true, and what we've said today is true. We can make it back to live with our Father in Heaven again. WE can do that through baptism...." And then I invited her to be baptized. She said she would after she learned more and prayed about it. Wow. It wasn't the most mind blowing spiritual experience of my life, but I do know one thing. I understood 90% of the lesson. I didn't say anything until the very end...but I understood, and the spirit was with me. That was absolutely incredible. I may not be super close with my companions, or any of the ward members for that matter, but I do have a friend here, and that's the Holy Ghost. That's all I need. Relationships with the people will come with time. But I've learned this week how important the Holy Ghost is.
Food - oh dear. So, I was excited to come back to the United States so I could get a break from the CCM Mexican food. I must have forgotten that just because I'm in the US, doesn't mean I will be eating American food. I should have prepared better. My first meal here was fish, rice, beans, spicy salsa, etc. It was a whole fish. The whole flipping fish - Just staring at me on the plate....eyeballs and all. Yikes! Every meal after that was something spicy...something with beans and rice...and something with tortillas. My body cannot tolerate this food. I don't know why. It just can't. My stomach, lips, and mouth are BURNING after every meal. It's honestly a great learning experience for me. It really is. It's made me appreciate what I have, and also be grateful for these sweet and humble people that fix us food. I'm truly blessed! Maybe my emails in the future will include my love of the food....hopefully.
Branch - we serve in the Chamblee branch. Only about 50 people...if that...come every Sunday. It's really small. Our district leader is Elder Taufa, and his companion is Elder Cruz (he was the one that came with me from the MTC...I know someone!!!) They are Spanish Elders. They serve with us in the Chamblee branch. It's super fun. These people are SO sweet. It's a completely different world here. I was worried that I wouldn't be submersed in the language...but BOY was I wrong. Every apartment I go to is a mini Mexico. These people just gather in various places, and that's where we serve. Driving from place to place is definitely America...but once we knock on the door....it's Mexico, or Guatemala, or El Salvador, or whatever. It's crazy!! :) I love it so much!!
Well, I cannot WAIT to have more experiences. It's absolutely amazing to be in lessons with real people. Watching them feel the spirit, and change their lives. It's incredible. Simply incredible! I have a strong testimony of missionary work. This week has NOT been easy, but I've certainly learned a whole lot. And I can't wait to learn more!!!! :) I love you all, thank you for your support!!