Monday, August 1, 2011


Hi All,
This has been another good week. It was a little weird with transfers being on Wednesday instead of Tuesday, but it all worked out well in the end. Now for what you all have been waiting for... My new companion is Hna Alvarez. Yes, her last name is Hispanic, no she is not a native Spanish speaker. Her dad is Cuban and her mom is Irish. What a combo! But, she didn't grow up speaking Spanish so she's learning it here on the mission. She's been out about 6 months, and served the whole time down in South Phoenix in Montana del Sur. She reminds me very much of serving with Hna Ayala, so this should be a very fun transfer. Her mom sent a package this week that included two flying monkeys... they are sling shot type stuffed animals... and we have spent a good deal of time pelting them at each other. Mine is named Charlie the Chango (chango is the Mexican slang word for monkey) he has a cape and a mask so he looks like some sort of masked flying monkey bandit... hence the monkey bandit type name. If you are lucky next week we'll send pictures with our monkeys.

This week has been interesting... it's always an interesting experience changing companions. You spend so much time with a companion that you get very comfortable with them. You become very comfortable teaching with them and fall into a routine of how you like things. Then you switch companions and all that goes out the window. We've been doing a lot of practice teaching to get comfortable teaching together. It always takes a little time, but one of our goals is to teach comfortably together by the end of this week. We'll see how we do. It's also tricky because you have to teach them the area... A lot of weight switches to the missionary who stayed, because suddenly your companion who knew the area and the people is no longer there to jog your memory or help you not forget people or things that need to happen. But all that said, Hna Alvarez is picking up everything really fast, and we have some great ideas to keep the work in this area moving forward. We have some great goals that we have set for things that we want to accomplish to get the work here up to the level that the other Spanish areas are. Right now the work is about par for an English area, but for a Spanish area it's still way below the mark, so we've still got a long way to go.

Mom asked in her letter about changes that were made in the mission with the new mission president. There have been huge changes, and most of them happened at Transfer meeting. It was cool to be there to hear all the changes. The change that has had the most responses was that President moved back to having Junior and Senior companions. With President Beck, after you had been out 6 months you became a co-senior. There have been some interesting comments and some very bent out of shape missionaries. That said, from the way President talked about it, to me it doesn't seem like it really should change that much... just that one person has the ultimate responsibility for the work in the area. Also, President split and re-aligned areas like crazy. For us here in Agua Fria it was a pretty big downer, because we are now the only Spanish missionaries in our Zone... English missionaries just are not quite as much fun as the Spanish missionaries. Both Hna Alvarez and I were pretty bummed. Also, the mission now only has one set of Assistants to the President. Previously there were two Spanish AP's and two English AP's. Before the reasoning was that this is technically a Spanish mission (meaning that we get the same focus towards the Spanish members and work as you would in Mexico or South America). But President decided that he just wants the two AP's, so two it is. Honestly, not too much of it affects me. He also talked about tightening up the rules and being more obedient, which was no surprise. And, all of the Spanish sisters were at transfer meeting. He really moved us around a lot! No companionship stayed the same.

Okay, now for a few more updates. Raphael's baptism was really lovely. He was so much fun to work with. I really love their whole family, and it was one of my best experiences as a missionary. I'll never forget how happy and excited he looked, those are the moments that make everything worth it as a missionary. Some times missionary work really is hard and long and exhausting. Then you have moments like that and suddenly all of the hours sweating like crazy in the Arizona sun don't matter.

The work here right now is interesting. Hna Graves and I had looked at the list of people we were working with going into the last week of the transfer, decided the majority really weren't progressing, and felt inspired to drop the vast majority. As a missionary that is both hard and terrifying. It's hard because you really love these people, but if they really aren't doing much or putting in their part, we need to move on. It's also terrifying because suddenly you are faced with a lot of time to try and find, and in this area that's hard, because there really aren't many Hispanics here. But, we're moving forward, and I'm excited to see what is waiting for us.
I think that's about all from Arizona. Love you all lots!
Hermana Okeson

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