Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Goodbye May

Hello All,
This week has been F.A.S.T! We have had a lot of work this week and the days have really flown by. We are now in week five of this transfer, and things have become interesting as Hna Aydelotte is winding down and preparing to go home in two weeks. I certainly don't envy her. Missions are an amazing time, and as missionaries we love and miss you all, but we wouldn't trade being here for anything. Mom asked about transfers and really for me not much will change. With the new training program being called as a trainer is an official 2 transfer call, so Hermana Graves and I will stay together here in Agua Fria for 6 more weeks. I'm excited and really enjoying having more time in one area. It's really only after being in an area for a while that you feel like you can really work, because then you know the people you are working with better and you also know the area. I'm hoping that things work out such that I can spend a long time here, but we'll see where I'm needed.

With this new transfer starting in two weeks we also come to an interesting point in the mission, because on June 30th President Beck leaves and President Taylor arrives. I'm both nervous and excited about the change. I have loved working with President Beck, and really appreciate his leadership of the mission, he's done so much good and he is a wonderful mission president. I'm also excited though for what President Taylor will bring. The first thing that President Taylor wants to work on is obedience, which I'm excited about. I never cease to be amazed when missionaries decide to only be obedient when it is convenient, and I'm excited to have a renewed focus on being exactly obedient. It'll be interesting though to see the difference in personality, and just what will change. I guess in a month I will know.

Mom also asked in her letter about tracting, and so I thought I'd write some about that. I have a love hate relationship with tracting. I serve in an area that has very few Spanish speakers, and so often when we go out tracting we rarely run into anyone who speaks Spanish. Often we find people for the Elders, but I've not seen a single return appointment in my four months here from tracting. In this mission there is an expectation that we are talking to 140 people each week. That's a lot of people, especially to find them tracting, we can knock doors for 2 hours and only actually talk to 8 or 9 people. We've come up pretty short of late on the number of people we are talking to because of various circumstances, but I am really hoping that soon we will be able to be out and meeting more people. One of my favorite places to talk to people is just out on the streets, especially at bus stops. Often they have time, and are more than willing to chat and listen a little. I've also learned over time that if I'm careful and really interested in what they have to say instead of just feeling like I'm trying to get out as much information as I can in 3 minutes that the time I have talking to these people goes so much better. People are so interesting, and I'm surprised at how willing they are to talk about the things they hope for in their lives and for their families. All it takes is just asking the right questions and really looking for how in that brief moment in time I can share something that might help them a little, and give them a desire to learn more.

Mom commented a little in her letter to me on just how odd it is that we are comming up on June (tomorrow!). I have to agree. June marks the "half way" point for both Trent and I. Before my mission this time seemed so long to me, it seemed like this huge abyss of time. I had no clue what to expect, and I was pretty nervous. I remember having to think about a mission in weeks because it seemed shorter to me that way. Now I'm coming up on my half way point I realize how short this time is. Each week really does go a little faster. I feel like I blink at it is Sunday again and we are calling in our numbers from the week. I am so tired all the time, which is good, because it means we are working hard, but am I ever tired. Some mornings and nights I have to pray standing up so I don't fall asleep (it's happened a few times, much to the amusement of my companions). We start each day with a huge list of people to see and things to do, and then we just work until we have to call it a night. I'm loving it. Training has also been a really good experience for me. I never really wanted to train. I'm not sure why, but I just didn't. Now I almost hope to train for the rest of my mission. I love the energy that a new missionary brings, and I love working with someone who is willing to really work hard, and is ready to try anything. A lot of missionary work is trial and error. We try something and when it doesn't work we move on and try something new. We are constantly trying to be better and to squeeze every minute out of every day, and so it's fun to have someone to work with who isn't as jaded by some of the happenings in mission life.

I thought this week I'd take the rest of my time to share a little about a family we are working with. I've never felt quite so much like my life experiences have helped me to be a good missionary than I have with this family. We are working with a family who are all members, but the adult children are working on coming back to church. We've had a lot of really good visits, and last week when we were over for dinner we invited the oldest son who is in his 30's to start meeting with us again, to try and answer his questions and help him go back to church. Now I need to preface this with some more information to help this make sense. We had an appointment fall through about 2 months ago, and ended up feeling like we needed to go by only one of the daughters was home, but we visited with her. She told us that she felt like our visit was for her, and that she had been praying for help and answers. This has happened a few times now with each of the children in the family. Well, two weeks ago this happened again and this time we went over and ran into the son. We talked to him in the door for a long time, and it came out that he was a musician. We started comparing music that we liked (mostly hispanic music) and found that we liked a lot of the same groups.

Okay, now jumping forward. We had our first actual lesson with him last night. As we started he asked us each to share why we came on a mission. It was really cool to have the oportunity to share why I decided to serve and also to hear my companions share their stories. Then he started talking about a lot of things in his life that had happened especially surrounding the time he was baptized. He told us how he struggles with some aspects of religion, and then felt like he couldn't be a normal person any more. And then he said "it was when you all came over and we talked about normal things, and I found out that you listened to spanish singers I like, and I learned that you gave up music to be here that I realized that you all are normal people". I was so touched. More so by the fact that the Lord really knows us and knows how to help people. The spanish groups are ones I remember listening to in highschool for homework. It was so cool to me that that was what he needed to hear, a little bizarre maybe, but that was what helped him be ready to think about coming back to church again. (Also I'm having a great time working with a musician... I heard a music theory rant last night and it wasn't coming out of my own mouth *grin*)

I think that's about it for the excitement here in Agua Fria. We're working hard, drinking lots of water, and sweating even more. Life is good!
Love you all,
Hermana Okeson

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