"Well hello there!! I have had a great week. Seriously though, it was great. I really loved it and of course there were lots of ups and downs, but it was really enjoyable.
Last preparation day we had an awesome game of pod ball (dodgeball with some fun twists, free for all, no sides, lots of running) which resulted in an extreme injury for me. I jammed my left ring finger. It was pretty bad, lots of blood and hospitals and doctors and things like that. Haha except it actually really did hurt for a couple days though, I felt like a wimp.
But it was a great preparation day and we were able to eat at the C family’s again and share a thought in Portuguese, all while having Pao de Quijo (Cheese Bread) and some other delicious Brasilian food. I really liked it. Then on Monday night I went to another apartment in the old apartment complex that we used to live and started an exchange with the elders there. I was with Elder Salazar, an Elder who came to the mission a week before I did, but has been out for less time since I was in the MTC for so long. So we are both new, but it was really good because we were in his area so it gave him a great opportunity to lead and really take charge. It was great, I grew to love the people we met and were talking with and the members who fed us, it made me wish that I would have the chance to serve there sometime while I am here in Bozeman. So that was a great experience.
Oh! We also did a ton of service that day which was great, we went to this part member family’s home in the mountains here and helped the member's husband tear up his deck! Elder Salazar and I are quite good at being destructive and tearing things apart we found out, as most 19 year old males most likely are. Luckily we weren't asked to actually build anything otherwise we would not have been able to perform as well I think.
We then spent three hours at the library here in Bozeman (Which is AWESOME. I seriously think it is so cool and I could spend so many hours reading here as a student or something) and we shelved books! Haha I gained a renewed appreciation for you mom, it was good but almost more tiring than the deck. Oh, I had to get tested on the Dewey Decimal System and alphabetizing, which was fun, but honestly a little nerve racking. But guess who passed with a perfect score? THIS ELDER. Haha it was good to be able to serve for a long time and then we were able to see some members and proselyte.
On Wednesday we had some really good contacts with members of our ward and then Elder Brown got way sick that night. It was interesting because he seriously was SO out of it. So we went back to the apartment and he went to sleep at 7 pm and slept through the night, while he was doing so I was able to have some quality time calling members of the ward and those we are teaching to set up appointments and to study as well. I did my best to serve from my apartment. On Thursday we had a Zone Training which I had been really looking forward to, it was incredible. I really loved it. We were able to role-play some lessons that we were talking about and it went great. We also had a wonderful discussion on inspired questions and really being in-tune with the Holy Ghost to know what we need to ask those we are teaching. I have really tried to apply that more and I have seen little miracles happen during our lessons as I ask questions that lead to trains of thought and things the investigators need that we hadn't planned for. I love it.
I also was asked to prepare and lead a discussion on a very interesting topic, which was “What is a successful missionary and how do you become one?” It was pretty difficult at first because I had to really find out what I thought a successful missionary was, focusing specifically on Preach My Gospel, pages 10-11. You should go read those some time, they are really good. I prepared a lot for it and the discussion went really well, I was really pleased. In Preach My Gospel, the manual for how we can be missionaries essentially, it discusses and says that our success as missionaries is primarily determined by our "commitment to find, teach, and baptize." This is often a struggle for missionaries who don't baptize many or any and feel like that then means they aren't successful. So I was able to have a great discussion and hear people's opinions on what that means. I was able to emphasize that perfection is not a trait missionaries have or will have, but that our commitment to find, or us striving and doing all we can, to find teach and baptize is what determines our success. It went well and I was happy about it.
Afterwards, we were able to serve at the food bank which was really good, I always loving doing so. Church was good, we had some great lessons, and it was a mission Fast Sunday so we were doing that.Now to answer some of your questions: My ward is great, not very missionary minded and tiny, but it has been really progressing. We are striving so much to help the members become more oriented, and luckily we are blessed with a fantastic ward mission leader, who actually has picked up some ideas from me talking about Dad. We just cover this one ward, but it is huge. So big. I am pretty sure it is the size, maybe slightly smaller, of our entire Stake back home. Haha it's crazy. But the members feed us almost every night and we love them for doing that, they are really great. I am eating very well, and very healthy as well. I have almond milk now because we are discouraged from having a lot of dairy. I am eating lots of vegetables and fruit, and I am seriously fed really well by the members. Also, my quest to gain weight is still the same it always has been, I have gained like 2 pounds, then I lost one, now I think I lost another one. Haha I exercise a lot more now so that has been fun in the mornings, never running because Elder Brown doesn't like to, but lots of core and some weights with the ones we have.
On Preparation Days we mainly clean, study, clean the truck, email, and then have time to play games like described above at the church, which is super fun! I love them and then we have dinner and go right back to the work! We try to ride our bikes as much as possible, which becomes interesting when your area is huge, but we only have a set number of miles each month, so we do that a lot, and the bikes are provided by the mission. I have gotten so good at riding without hands and I can even mark things in my planner while riding now, it's fun. Also, got your package, and absolutely loved it! I loved the coconut, it was delicious and I still have some. Elder Burrows loved it to, Elder Brown and Schlenker not so much. Haha so thanks for that, oh and the razor is fantastic, it has been so nice!!!
Oh and we had dinner with the Mortenson’s last week which was really good, especially because right before this random guy pulled his car up next to us on Main Street and asked if he could talk with us. His friends are LDS and one is on a mission and he said he wanted to know what we believe because his friends haven't ever been active and he has always been curious. We ended up teaching him the first lesson right there on the street and gave him a Book of Mormon, he unfortunately lives in Texas and was just visiting but we did all we could to either get his info for the missionaries there and to encourage him to go to Mormon.org and contact missionaries through that. It was definitely a tender mercy.
So I have some interesting and exciting news.
I AM GETTING TRANSFERRED.
Haha I found out last night but wasn't allowed to tell any other missionaries until this morning that I am being moved to Billings! I will be in a trio with the Zone Leaders there, Elder Bishop and Elder Nielsen, who I have heard are absolutely fantastic. I was super bummed/excited because I love it here and am so sad to be leaving the people I have grown to love through teaching and meeting with. So that was so exciting to hear that I am going there! Elder Brown is staying here as District Leader and he is getting a new companion and from what we have heard it is a really good opportunity for him to be a leader in the companionship. The rest of our Zone is getting pretty torn up as well: Elder Burrows is going to be a Zone Leader in Kalispell, which is actually an area he was in for six months and where he was Zone Leader before, so he’s really excited about that. I am way bummed to not be able to be around him again, we've become great friends and we both wish we could serve together but he is going to do great there.
Also, interesting thing is that often when visa-waiters are put into trios, especially in Billings, it is an indication that their visas are close... we'll see, maybe I am just needed in Billings right now, but that could be exciting, so we will just have to wait and see what happens in the future. Keep sending things to the mission home, they will redirect everything to my new place! Well I love you all so much, I am so glad to hear you all are ok with the floods, some people have been telling me about it and I was a little worried but figured I would hear something if anything bad happened. Keeping all of those people in my prayers. Love you all so much, and Billings here I come!!!!