Well, last week was one of the best of my mission, and so in true rollercoaster style, this was one of the not so good ones. That's okay though, that means this week will go better. The exciting news of the week was that I got the flute in the mail. I was pretty excited. I've had a chance to play a little since getting it, and am I ever rusty! That's okay though. No one here knows what I sounded like before, so they have nothing to compare to. Mostly it's just that everything moves a little slower than it used to, but I'm really not worried for when I get home. I played some this morning and just felt like when the time comes things will come back just fine. That was comforting. Now I'm working on finding a pianist, because I would love to play a musical number in the ward I've been serving in. I feel like I need to redeem myself here... they've only ever heard me play hymns on the piano in sacrament meeting, so I feel like a bit of a faker when I tell them that I studied music performance before the mission. (It comes up pretty quickly that I am studying the flute not the piano.)
This week was rough mostly because everything managed to fall through on us which meant we got to do a lot of finding. Finding is good. We have spent the better part of the last week on bike and riding through different parts of our area. On Thursday we actually found an area that I had never been to that seems fairly Hispanic. We're pretty excited to go back there and to do some finding. It's also been nice to be out on bike because the weather right now is perfect! We've sat at about 75 degrees every day, after a summer of 110+ only 75 degrees feels so good. The locals here also agree, and it's been evident by the fact that there are now people out on the streets. In the dead of summer the only people out on the streets were the crazies and the missionaries.
We're now gearing up for another baptism here at the end of the month. We're pretty excited. Her name is Yizelle and she's 14. Her family hasn't been to church in a long time but we're working at getting them back. They made it to church on Sunday which was a huge step forward. She's a whole lot of fun to work with. We're hoping that after she gets baptized her older brother will change his mind and decide to be baptized too. They're a fun family to work with, and we're enjoying getting to work with them. It's actually pretty funny... before I came to this area all of the baptisms were in the southern end of the area... since I've gotten here all the baptisms we have seen have been way in the northern part of our area. I'm not sure what that means... but it's been interesting to see how far north we work in comparison to all of the previous missionaries who have served in this area. It's actually nice... because the southern area is pretty burnt over... so it's good to go places where people are more willing to listen at least for a few minutes.
Mom asked about my goals for the last part of my mission... I really just want to work really hard. Multiple people in their e-mails commented on how they liked the conference talk by Elder Arden of the 70 about time management. I really liked it too... I think we Okesons are all the same... Anyhow, I really did enjoy it and thinking about how we use our time. It really does fly by, especially as the end of the mission comes faster and faster. Next week I start my 9th transfer (sisters serve for 12 transfers). Like Trent, I've become one of the decidedly "old" missionaries. Also like Trent said, it's nice to have been out for a long time because you get very comfortable with the routine of missionary work. You know how things go and how they are supposed to work. I like having the routine down, but getting caught in the routine can lead to time wasting. It's also interesting to work those sorts of things out with a companion. Everyone brings different things to this work... I've heard that my reputation in the mission is as a really, really hard working missionary, which I like... But like I said, we all bring different things. It's interesting to look back at the things I have learned from each of my companions. Hna Alvarez, my current companion, is really a social character... and so I've learned a lot about working with people from her. She loves being in the thick of things and talking to lots of people. I like being a grunt... I like doing the work but would pretty happily stay doing my work in my area off on the side somewhere. So, I've been pushed out of my element quite a bit over these last two transfers, which is probably good.
Other things for the end of my mission... I really want to figure out how to really polish my Spanish. It really makes a difference being able to really communicate with people on their own terms and in their own language. Most of the time I do pretty good, but every so often there are a few verb tenses that still manage to really trip me up. I can understand them and follow what is going on when they are used, but using them myself is still a little tricky. I'm also working on reading the entire Bible in Spanish. I'm trying to keep up with those reading for Seminary; only I'm on a little bit of a faster track because I have to finish the New Testament too. I think I will finish everything a little after Christmas if all goes well. It's really cool reading the scriptures in another language because different things stand out. I really like that. I have some favorite verses in Spanish that just aren't the same in English. I'm also looking forward to being able to tell some of the cranky people on the street who accuse me of having never read the Bible, that I in fact have... and I've done it in two languages. :-)
We have transfers next week; it'll be interesting to see what happens. I'm almost positive I'm staying here again... at this rate I think I could end up serving my entire mission here. I'm just hoping that if President wants to transfer me that he doesn't wait until the end of this next transfer, I think it would be hard to get transferred to a new area right before Christmas. But who knows. That does mean, that my letter next week will be sent on Tuesday, and not on Monday. There are no new sisters coming in who speak Spanish until January, so things should be fairly stable until then... I would expect a few small changes here or there, but that the really big move for Spanish sisters will probably come again right after Christmas.
Okay, I'm out of time. I love you all. Thanks for the letters and the support!