Monday, June 27, 2011

Hot and Hotter

Hello all!
It's really heating up. Apparently the last few days have set heat records. Our "cooler" spring is sure trying to catch up for lost time. And, to my dismay, I discovered there is a huge difference between 110 degrees and 118. At 110 (for anyone who wants to know) the poor missionaries on bikes feel pretty hot and sweaty, but can still stand it. At 118 the poor missionaries on bikes want to die and even the wind feels like it is burning you. While you are out knocking doors you feel like you are baking in an oven. It's certainly turning into quite the experience.

Luckily we have really been blessed this week, although until we totaled up our numbers we sure didn't feel like it. This week was a week for canceled lessons. Each day almost every lesson (and some days every lesson) called to cancel, or just wasn't there. A few canceled lessons a week is pretty normal, but we had over 15 cancel or not show. That is a huge number. Hermana Graves and I were super dissapointed with each cancellation, but like President Beck always says, when it's hard you have to "POGO!" So that's what we did. Every time a lesson canceled or fell through we made the best of it and tried to figure out where we were supposed to be instead. It worked out really well, because after over a month of having no new investigators we found a new family to teach and an older lady. It was really really cool to see how even though everything fell through we were still able to get a lot done. We also ended up teaching a lot of impromptu lessons and visiting other people who don't usually get as much attention from us.

Like Trent, we also had out last Zone Conference with the Becks. I was really amazed to see some of the things that President brought to this mission. I'm also quite excited to meet and work with President Taylor. I think the coolest changes was that in 3 years this mission doubled the number of baptisms. That's so cool. It was also interesting to see how the work really will move on. Besides President and Sister Beck's final testimonies and a short presentation by President on "change" it was a completely normal Zone Conference. Both of their final testimonies were really good, and definitely showed their personalities. Sister Beck cried, President pounded the pulpit (although he did look a little more choked up than I've ever seen him). I've really enjoyed working with them so much, and I feel like I have learned so much. I think the most interesting thing will be to see how President Taylor chooses to move forward. I'm pretty curious.

I also have thought a lot this week about when President wrote me last August and told me that I would have to leave my flute at home. I didn't realize it then, but I think that was the best thing he could have ever done for me. It's been hard, but I've learned a lot about how to sacrifice for something better. I know I focus so much better without the flute here, and that because of that I have become a far better missionary. The most interesting thing that I learned interestingly only partially relates to the flute itself. The most interesting thing I learned was to be completely obedient. Back in August when I got the e-mail I had to decide whether or not I knew President was called of God, and whether or not I was going to be completely obedient. It wasn't easy. But making that decision before coming out has made my mission so much easier. From that point on anything I was asked to do paled in comparison to how hard it was to leave the flute behind, and so it was easy to remind myself that I knew President was called of God, and that I had already decided to be obedient. I also learned about attitude. I could leave the flute and be miserable for 18 months, or I could leave the flute and work hard and be happy. The time or sacrifice wouldn't change, but the way I felt about it would. Again, that made a huge difference for me as I have been in interesting and sometimes very challenging moments over my mission. I spent a good deal of time thinking about all of this yesterday, and really was shocked by just how much of a blessing this has been. That's certainly something I never expected 9 months ago! I guess missions really do change you.

Tomorrow I'm going on splits back down to South Phoenix. Sadly, I won't be going back to where I served, but I'll be more or less in the same area. I'm pretty excited to have a day of speaking all Spanish again... there are so many Mexicans in South Phoenix, and while I love it here, I miss feeling like I'm in Mexico. I should be a good exchange. We had a little trouble getting it to go through because when we go on exchanges we have to have members drive us.
That's normally not a problem, but the Sister I'm trading places with for the day is tiny... and there is no way I could use her bike or she could use mine. I'm pretty sure she wouldn't be able to reach the pedals, and I would look like a clown. Luckily this morning we finally found someone with a truck to take us down... so the bike dilemma is solved. Later in July I'm going on exchanges again out to Wickenburg (for the second time).

We've got to run. I love you all! Thanks for the letters. Have a great week!
Hermana Okeson

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