Monday, May 9, 2011

Texan Training

Hello all!
It has been quite the week. I guess I will start with talking about my new companion. Her name is Hermana Graves, she's from Denton Texas (she put up her Texas flag before she unpacked... what is with these Texans?), but her family is living in Guatemala. Yes, we're already having fun telling people where our families live. Before her mission she was going to school at BYU Idaho studying to be a physical therapist. I am having such a good time with her! She is a wonderful missionary, and it is so fun to feel the excitement of being with someone who is brand-new to the mission. They certainly bring a very special energy and excitement to an area. I'm enjoying working with her, and although training in a trio provides some interesting moments, we're making it work.

The most interesting thing about training is that a brand new training program has just been launched world wide. Our mission is the third one to implement it, so we are being tracked very very closely. This may mean that my weekly letters for the next 12 weeks may be a little shorter as I have more things I need to be writing to President Beck. Boiled down the new training program is built to make sure that you are covering everything in a very specific order. There is a descent sized packet that we work with, that outlines the focus for each of the 12 weeks of training. Each week has study focuses and teaching focuses. For instance, this past week the focus was to let the new missionary take the leading in all finding situations and in extending baptismal invitations. This week we will be focusing heavily on the first missionary lesson (the restoration) and also on techniques on how to begin teaching. Also we have an extra hour of studying each day. That has probably been the most interesting part. For the 12 weeks of training you have the normal one hour of personal and language study, but then also we have 2 hours of companion study. I really like it because it provides a chance to practice a lot of things each day before we leave the apartment. I remember when I was trained always feeling a little hesatant because I didn't quite know what to expect, but with the extra study time we've been able to try to practice through a lot of the situations that we will run into each day. It'll be interesting to see how the program works as we get farther into it.

This week has also been crazy because we have had lots and lots of work here in Peoria. Right now we have 3 people preparing for baptism so that keeps us quite busy. The first one is Mary, she's being baptized this Saturday. We're so incredibly excited for her. She actually found us, and we only started working with her a week or so ago. She's had some interesting experiences in her life that have prepared her very well to take this step. Right now we're hoping her husband (who is currently living and working in Mexico) will be able to get things pulled together fast enough that he can come too. That's the goal anyways. The second two who are preparing for baptism are Leonila and Erik. Leonila is a single mom, and Erik is her 13 year old son. We absolutly love working with them. Leonila is just fascinating to teach, although sometimes she keeps us on our toes, because she comes up with really really good questions. They are preparing to be baptized on the 21st.

I thought I would end by telling about our sleeping arrangement fiasco. It actually turned out fairly comical, but at the time didn't seem that way. Monday when we got the phone call that we would be recieving another sister we were told that some Elders would bring over bunkbeds and get them set up for us. Tuesday at the transfer meeting we were then informed of the same thing, and told that we would have everything dropped of, and when we got home we would have beautiful new bunkbeds waiting for us. Tuesday night we got home, walked in the garage, and saw mattresses and bunkbed parts galore. It was about 9:30pm and so we knew that there was no way we were getting bunkbeds that night. We scoped out the couches, and slept on those. We went by height, and so I got the longest couch, which was still quite a short couch. I don't think anyone really slept much. Wednesday we had some Elders come by to put the couch together, but they discovered they were short on parts. Whoops. Again, we were told when we got home, we'd have bunkbeds. This time though I was smarter (or so I thought) I called those Elders at about 7pm to check that they had put them together. they told me no, because they couldn't find the parts they needed, then they told me what we needed to put it together and to call around and ask some people in the area. So, I got to test out my mechanical Spanish skills. Huge flop. I barely knew what I was asking for in English, and "that twisty whatzamajiger that fits on the srewy thing inside the wood" doesn't really translate over so well. I think I confused the better part of the ward. We were smarter on Wednesday though, and pulled the mattresses into our room and slept on those. It worked farily well, although I was far less than pleased when I woke up and found Molly (the dog) sleeping on top of me. I don't think she will try that again. I think I scared her as much as she scared me. Well, finally, Thursday morning we ended up with bunkbeds. We were so happy to get them.

I think that is about all for this week. Have a wonderful week. Thanks all for writing me!
Love you lots,
Hermana Okeson

Ps. the picture is from dinner Wednesday night, one of the sisters made really yummy homemade pizza, this is from just before it was cooked.

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