[Editor's note: This is slightly out of sequence due to snail mail vs. email, so enjoy going back a few days]
How are you all?
I am in my first area! Livermore, California. I'm currently at Target with my companion, Sister Gregerson. She's from Atlanta, Georgia! So much has happened! Livermore is a cute little town about 40 minutes away from San Jose. Everyone is connected and pretty much related. Lucky for me, I'm following in the footsteps of two amazing sisters. One that got transfered to Palo Alto and another that went home. Truthfully it's slightly intimidating, but with the Lord's help, I will be able to love and serve just as well as they did.
My companion is a fireball. She is literally on fire. I am the first sister she has trained and she will go home in about 6 months. She graduated from BYU Provo in Neuroscience (did I even spell that correctly? ha!) So to say the least, she is brilliant. She is about my height, blonde with a short hair cut that is a bit of a bob. She's got blue eyes but looks can be deceiving. She is tough. She knows her stuff and is incredibly obedient. It is a blessing to have such an obedient trainer/companion. She is starting me off just right! I know I am supposed to have her as a companion. She has already taught me so much. I only hope I can do the same. We're on the way to a dinner appt now. Pday is really over in 3 minutes. We give restoration lessons/dinner messages where I recite the First Vision. It's great!
Today is Preparation day. We have to pay for laundry which is a bit of a pain, but oh well. WE live in a fairly nice apartment. All of our neighbors know who we are seeing as sisters are always coming and moving in and out of that apartment. The Hispanic population is that of Arlington around here and it makes me pretty sad and disappointed that I'm not an Hermana. I just flock to these groups of people and wish that I could communicate with them better. I hope they feel my love through my smile and hopefully my presence.
So far, we have taught a lot of less-active members. It has been wonderful meeting everyone. They knew I was coming and have all give me warm welcomes.
Having General Conference as my first weekend on the mission has been a blessing. It helps me to know what to say or reference. Overall it's a great topic of discussion and of course a great commitment to invite people to do.
We are big on commitments here in LIvermore. We don't knock on doors but simply street contact. If we aren't in a less-active member lesson, we are at a member dinner or contacting. We, meaning the San Jose mission, is one of the missions being tested to see if contacting, rather than door knocking works. We participate in a lot of service as well.
On Friday morning, we went to Quail Gardens, an elderly home and played BINGO. WE also sang to them. At one point, when the four of us sisters were singing "Nearer My God To Thee," they all joined in. Truthfully, I hate that song because it reminds me of the ship, Titanic going down, but you just have to believe me when I say that I sobbed! I could not handle it! The tears were flowing and would not stop. It was so beautiful singing with them. They were all so old and at the tail ends of their lives! They really were nearer to God than me in a sense. I just started my mission not even a week ago. I have got so much to do in this life and so much to (hopefully) accomplish. I think about where I was, where I am, and certainly where I'm going and can't help but be so incredibly grateful!
I loved singing with those sweet old people. Many whom were asleep, couldn't talk that well or something of that nature. But as soon as we started singing, they did too! I'm so blessed to be able to be a missionary. I am so grateful that my Father in Heaven trusts me with his children.
I love my mission president. The Mellas are perfect. Sister Mella is Marsali Hancock's sister. Sister Mella totally knew who I was and on the night before transfers took my companion Sister Walton and I to see her! Marsali lives a couple of minutes from the mission home, so it was truly wonderful to be able to see her. I didn't however get to see Annie or Rachel. Marsali's house is beautiful. She played the violin for us! It was perfect. I felt like I was back in ARlington with her. It was so wonderful.
I've come to the conclusion that I am going to be tired for the next 18 months. I have literally been tired since September 17. But, what a blessing! What an opportunity. As I think of other missionaries and their experiences, I decided flat out yesterday that no matter what happens I am not going home until this work is finished, until I am called home. This may not always be easy. It may even get harder, but nothing, no force will take me away from this work until March 30, 2016. How blessed I am to be able to number myself among the 88,000 missionaries all over the world.
The Lord knows us. He knows our needs, our wants, and our abilities. My favorite talk at conference was the one given by the Brazilian Seventy. "Are we living up to the blessings we are promised in our Patriarchal Blessing?" I may at one point have been living under my potential and my privilege. I am SO grateful for this mission and this blessing of an opportunity.