Wow, it's crazy that I'm here in Florida! Every day I wake up and think, holy cow, I'm a missionary! It's crazy how fast everything has happened.
So last Tuesday I woke up at 2:30 in the morning to leave the MTC for the Salt Lake airport. I got to talk to my Mom on the phone which was awesome. So many strangers offered to let the missionaries use their phones and many wished us good luck! We flew for four hours to Atlanta Georgia then an hour long flight to Tallahassee. We met the mission President Smith and his cute wife, but as of today they are done with their three year mission and are soon to be replaced by... a new President and Sister Smith, haha! We stayed in Tallahassee at a hotel Tuesday night. On Wednesday morning, we went to the church where we were assigned our areas and our companions/ trainers! I'm serving in Fort Walton Beach, a city about three hours from Tallahassee.
My companion Sister Stephens is a direct answer to prayer! She's been out for almost a year, so she's very experienced, is a solid missionary, a good example, uplifting, makes me happy, and is teaching me so much about how to be a more effective missionary! She calls Missouri home, but most recently lived in Saudi Arabia for her dad's airforce job. She's awesome and I love her!
So I hugged Sister Wall and my other MTC friends goodbye, and we drove to Fort Walton Beach! Florida is covered in trees!!! It's soooo green and beautiful! And I kinda like the humidity! Although Sister Stephens laughs and says that this is nothing compared to what comes around in July-September, when it rains like crazy, gets crazy hot, and crazy humid. But come what may!
We live in a cute little apartment that I'll send pictures of next week. Here's my daily schedule for your curiosity:
6:30 Wakey wakey! We get up and go on a run, because yay, Sister Stephens actually likes to run, too! And there is so much oxygen in the air, I can run for so much longer than I could in Utah!
7:00 Shower and get dressed
So far we've been pretty spoiled: so far we've made french toast, fried eggs and hash browns, coconut pancakes... yeah. :)
8-9 Personal study, like the scriptures, Preach My Gospel, and any other church material. We study for our lessons and for how we can improve.
9-10 Companionship study. We roleplay one of the lessons we're going to have that day, practice OYM-ing (Open Your Mouth- so talking to random people we meet on the street) :) as well
10-11 "The First 12 Weeks," which is a program for new missionaries to adjust to the field and missionary work and developing teaching skills. It's really helpful!
12-9 Teaching! We go to appointments with our investigators, with less active members, try finding new people to teach. We also have an hour for dinner in there.
9:30 need to be home, plan for next day.
10:30 Bed time
It definitely took a few days to get used to this schedule, but it gets better every day! I'm loving it more and more! Every other day we get to drive the car, and on the other day we ride our bikes. I'd like to figure out how much we bike on the days we do! I'm going to have calves of steel by the time I come home! I've never sweated so much in my life! :) But I'm so happy! God is blessing me so much! This work would fail if it wasn't true! It's the most rewarding work I've ever done.
Some highlights from my week:
On Thursday, we had lunch with Tess Nystrom. She and her husband Yogi got baptized last year and they're solid! He's the ward mission leader and she's the relief society secretary. They're going to the temple to get their endowments soon and are going to have their marriage sealed on their anniversary in September! Tess made killer fried rice and we shared a message about the Atonement.
One of the coolest experiences from this week was with Rod, who's an awesome African American man who has a strong belief in God. That's something that's neat about the South, that pretty much everyone we meet and teach already has faith in God and loves Him and Jesus Christ. Anywho, this was his second lesson. We talked about the Book of Mormon, which he's been reading, and taught him how by coming to know the Book of Mormon is true, we also come to know that this is truly the church of Jesus Christ, that it was restored through Joseph Smith who was a true prophet, and that God and Christ live. We invited him to ask in the closing prayer, "Is the Book of Mormon true?" and then to feel/listen for an answer and recognize his feelings after the prayer. I could feel the warm peace of the spirit as Rod asked the question during the prayer, then paused, and then said "Thank You God, for answering my prayer. I know this is what You're telling me I need to do," and finished the prayer. He felt God answer his question during the prayer right after he asked it! He said that he knew that was going to be the answer, because when we had taught him about how the Bible and Book of Mormon work together to testify of Christ, he said it just clicked for him. He's looking forward to baptism and loves the gospel! It was a miracle!
Two of our other investigators are Akiria and Rodrick, two African American kids 9 and 11 years old whose grandpa Ray got baptized about two weeks ago. They're baptism date is in about a month. They are so much fun to teach! This week we had lessons about the Word of Wisdom, Tithing, and the Law of Chastity. We have object lessons to help them learn, like using jelly beans to learn about paying tithing.
On Friday we biked around a lot to try and see some previous investigators. We went to one sister's house, and as we knocked on the door, she pulled into the driveway and was way happy to see us. She said she never comes home at this time in the day, but that she came home from work momentarily to grab something. We set up an appointment to see her soon. I love God's timing!
For dinner we went to the Wielden's home, some members in the ward with two young kids. We had suuupeeer amazing curry, and I had been craving curry just that morning! Another tender mercy. :) Sister Wielden told us about fish head soup that she makes (an Asian dish, I think) and she had some in the fridge, and a few of us wanted to try some, so I got to eat fish head soup! They literally chop up and cook up the whole fish head into this broth with celery. Not too bad! I just couldn't bring myself to eat the eyes. :)
On Saturday we did service for an hour helping weed at a place called Children in Crisis. Sunday was Stake Conference in Crestview, about 45 minutes away. We taught a few lessons, had stuffed peppers for dinner, and prepared for today.
So that's about it! Being a missionary is amazing, and is really a privelege. This is God's work, and being all-powerful, He could spread the gospel however He wanted, even without missionaries. But He loves us enough to let us help Him in this incredible work of inviting and helping others to come unto Christ because of how we can change for the better and help others change by being a part of it. My favorite things about being a missionary so far are being led by the Spirit every day and feeling it confirm to me the truths of the gospel as I study, plan, and as I teach an testify with Sister Stephens in lessons. Another thing is getting to know some of the awesome people that God has prepared to receive the gospel, and loving them and seeing the hope and joy of the gospel change their lives. I already love the people here so much. I invite each of you to think of how you can show more love to the people around you, how you could serve them more and think of them as the sons and daughters of God that they are. Love y'all!