Oh, the sweet Alabama air is filled with love from all the couples walking around. It's quite something. The weather here has been absolutely fantastic!! Today it's about 70 degrees and clear skies. After emailing we are all going to get the BBQ out and play some sand volleyball. I'm really looking forward to it. Anyways, so how has my first full week as a missionary been? Well....
It has been completely INSANE. The fast pace and everything I have gotten used to but it's still way different. I have gotten a huge amount of culture shock while staying here. The ward that I go to is way awesome though and is really helpful with the missionaries. They like to help us out a lot. One thing I am really sad about is that the people don't have the missionaries over for dinner at all. We've only had one dinner appointment since I've been here and the rest of the days we work through dinner so I don't get to eat until 9:30 at night. It's a lot of hard work, but I am loving it - but also starving at the same time. Anyways, the work has been both a lot of Spanish and English. I am in a trio and one of the missionaries is English speaking and the other one is from Colorado but is assigned speaking Spanish. So I get the best of both worlds and get to preach in both Spanish and English for as long as I'm here. The English lessons are pretty fun to teach. They are real people and I enjoy interacting with them and try to get them to grow closer to Christ. But the Spanish...... I try so hard but it's difficult to speak with them. Sometimes my companion will let me go for it and teach a good chunk of the lesson and then I go off, and when I am done I am pretty sure the investigator had zero idea what I said. That's pretty discouraging because in my head it made 100% sense. But I am trying....
Other than that the culture here is so different to me. There are Baptist and Methodist churches every street corner as well as Waffle Houses on everything street corner haha, and a lot of people we run into are Methodist or Baptist. Surprisingly - to me at least - the people are way nice. I thought that they would hate Mormons but they are actually really polite and even though they have zero interest in the message they will smile and say no thank you. Then if you try and push, that is when they get fierce. There are times though when you do meet some hostile people.... There was this one lady we ran into earlier in the week and as soon as we walked toward her house, she ran out of her house and said, "Leave!! I know who you are, I am NOT INTERESTED!!" We were kinda shocked, but you know were still polite. We contined to talk to her saying things like, "Well, you don't even know what we have to say." and stuff like that, but nope. She was not happy we even considered talking to her. Then my companion was like, "I think you might be confused about some of our beliefs." And that is when she went balistic. "CONFUSED?!? You think I am CONFUSED?!?" Then she went off and like for five minutes straight told us we were going to hell and all this stuff. Now, maybe it's because I am new and naive, or just am ignorant to the whole thing, but I was laughing in my head the whole time. I was not afraid, in fact, I kind of wanted to keep talking to her. I had fun with it. But like I said, I haven't at all felt in danger since I have been here and Idk if that is because of my ignorance or because I have the confidence that God is watching over me and protecting me.
Anyways, there is still zero word from my visa, so I am just not worrying about it, but i do want to know what the status of it is. Starting Wednesday, I am moving to another apartment just like 5 minutes away with my companion so we will be more in the middle of the Spanish area, and the third member of our companionship will get a new companion. Meaning, that starting Wednesday I will be pretty much 100% Spanish which is both good and exciting and bad and disheartning. Luckily, we will still go to the same ward. We have quite a bit of Mexicans attending so me and my companion sit in the back and translate what is being said which is SO HARD. It's almost impossible for me to keep up. So if I fall behind I usually have to make up something that they said that goes along with the rest of their talk.
Well, Alabama isn't the same as Oregon. That's for sure. I miss everyone back home! It's been insane though. I don't even think too much of the "outside world" even though I am driving around in it. I actually forgot it was my birthday tomorrow until my companion was talking to me yesterday about birthdays. I am just losing myself in the work I guess. Well, It is time for me to go but I hope to hear from you all soon!! Thanks for the support!
Elder Steven Card