Hola familia, amigos, y otros…
So I think I ran out of clever titles for now. I do have a song I love called “Kansas,” but it’s kind of a sad song, and I’m almost positive none of you have ever heard of it, so yeah, I might have to be one of those boring missionaries that calls their emails “Weekly Email” or something. 🙂 Anyways, first off, since I’m not entirely sure you guys caught it in the last email (Ariel, I see that you sent me a response to the visa email I forwarded you guys, asking for my address), here’s my address once again. Like I said last week, this is the address to the mission office, and they’ll forward letters and Priority Mail packages right to where we live. (Well, actually, they have ours and the neighboring ward’s missionaries’ addresses mixed up, so they’ll probably send it to where they live until we get that straightened out. Anyhow, not the point… :)) Try not to send packages by UPS or FedEx, because those they just hold at the mission office until we can pick them up. Anyways, just in case, here’s the address…
Elder Brandon Randall
517 W Walnut St.
Independence, MO 64050
Not to make you guys feel guilty or anything, but I haven’t gotten any mail (besides our monthly mission newsletter) yet. Ahem. Kidding, kidding…whenever you guys can send something is fine. 🙂 By the way, I didn’t know this, but I guess you can send letters via DearElder still…from what I understand, you probably just pay the postage on there and write your letter like you did when I was at the MTC, and then they take care of sending it. So if that’s easier, you might try that. And feel free to send emails if you need to, too. I wouldn’t be able to read them until P-days, but if you ever don’t feel like sending a letter and just want to shoot me an email, no problem. 🙂
So, I actually made a detailed list of stuff I wanted to cover here, so we’ll see if that actually helps or not. And yep, more bullets. (Nate and Livi, I’ll talk about your absolutely awesome emails in a minute, but I loved how you tried to use bullets, Nathan. It’s never too early to learn. :))
- Story time: So I’m actually going to take most of this account from my journal. (Insert fancy font here and “From The Journals of Elder Brandon A.S. Randall” or something.) (Also insert throat clearing noise and the voice of Morgan Freeman. :)) “On Monday night, we had dinner with the Tullises, a very fun younger couple in the ward. Brother Tullis is a paramedic. We had a nice spaghetti dinner, then they took us out for some absolutely delicious gelato. On our way back to our house, as they were taking us home since we don’t have the car this week, we noticed a woman driving very erratically. She was switching lanes at will, and nearly hit a few cars in front and back of her, including ours. (She was ahead of us.) It was pretty darn dangerous, and after about 30 seconds or so, it became pretty clear there was something wrong here. The lady kept going all over the place, and while we were stopped at an intersection (the other part of it was just an entrance to a shopping center), she drove right into a pole at the median, almost hitting it head on. Brother Tullis was already in the process of calling 911, and while he was doing so, she backed up, going right across the intersection, and rolled onto the sidewalk on our right. Yeah. Pretty scary. (Here I drew a diagram in my journal, which I wish you could see, because I actually remembered how the intersection looked like pretty well. Usually I’m horrible at that kind of thing.) My companion, Elder Leighton, ran out to try to get her to, y’know, stop driving the dang car. We were still kind of in the middle of the intersection (pretty much all the cars were stopped behind us, or went around us), and we saw another couple (they were wearing matching uniforms/polo shirts, so they may have just been co-workers?) get out of their van, and the woman from that couple went to help. She went to the passenger side door, opened it, and helped Elder Leighton try to get the lady to put the car in park and take the keys out. Apparently, the lady misunderstood, pressed the gas instead of the brake, had it in reverse, and gunned it, nearly running the woman on the passenger side door (which was still open) over…she got knocked down, and had to do a barrel roll onto the grass to get out of the way. (Elder Leighton was fine, as the driver’s side door was still closed, but had she gone a bit more his way, he could have been in danger.) We were watching this all from the car, and Brother and Sister Tullis quickly pulled into the shopping center parking lot, had me stay and watch the car, and I witnessed the surreal proceedings that followed from there. (Watching it all from the car kind of reminded me of the time that I witnessed a cow stampede…on a campout as a deacon by the Mormon Battalion trail, I was sitting on a blanket reading while the rest of my quorum/troop was out by a little hill a bit from camp, exploring and stuff. All of a sudden, out in the distance, I saw them running like heck from a small herd of cows. I was glad I didn’t go with them, because as a 12-year-old…heck, even now…I probably wouldn’t have been able to run fast enough. :)) They finally got the lady to take the keys out, Brother Tullis and the male from that couple got the lady out (someone oddly ran over and shouted for him not to take her out of the car yet, but Bro. Tullis called back that he was a paramedic, and the guy responded, “Oh, OK.”), sat her on the grass, and she was apparently way drunk & out of it. The police and fire department eventually came, blocked off the lane, and after Brother Tullis told the officer what happened, they were free to go and the police and fire took care of it.” So yeah, that…happened. It was a crazy situation, but it really helped teach me (again) that God watches over us–all of us. That lady could have caused quite a few accidents very easily (there were a lot of points where she was inches away from hitting either us or another car), but as it turned out, no one got hurt, except for that poor woman that got knocked onto the grass. (I think she escaped with a scrape or two, though.) We were all OK. What’s always constant, whether accidents happen or not, is that God is always looking out for us. I’m very grateful for that truth, especially as a missionary, and I know without a doubt that Heavenly Father is really here for me.
- Hopefully that should be the longest bullet, haha. Anyways, sometime this week, at another dinner appointment, one of their daughters had gone to England on her mission. (Yes, I was just a bit jealous. :)) She asked us for some pamphlets that she could maybe give to people at her job, and then she remarked about how the pamphlets in England are slightly different…besides Anglicising the spellings (Saviour, baptised, etc.) apparently there “pants” means “underwear,” so when they talk about what people usually wear to Church, they can’t say “nice pants,” so instead they say “smart trousers.” Which we all agreed was completely awesome. 🙂
- Remember last week when I said I ate Chinese food, and kind of liked it? This week has brought some more food-related firsts. For example, I ate a casserole with green beans in it, and actually had seconds. I ate a large cream cheese burrito (with like pico de gallo and chicken in it…it was a little bit spicy) at a Mexican restaurant. (Sorry I didn’t warn you guys to sit down first this time. :)) So yeah, I’ve done pretty well with dinner appointments so far here in Kansas.
- The other day we were working on a map of our area (we don’t have a GPS, and this past week, we had to walk everywhere, so it really will help us get around much better), and while on Google Maps, we showed each other the areas where we lived. Right when I got to Mesa, Porter Elementary showed right up, and I was like, “Hey, that’s my elementary school!” When you click on schools, businesses, etc., it either pops up with something from their website, or a randomly selected review from somewhere on the Internet. A review popped up, and I was thinking it would be great, since Porter’s an awesome school…but then we started reading it and it was something to this effect: “Porter is a hateful school. The teachers and staff are horrible and I wouldn’t wish going there on my worst enemy.” So yeah. Someone had a major bee in their bonnet, and now my companion thinks my elementary school was awful. 🙂 (It’s kind of a running joke now…whenever we drive by a school, I sometimes remark, “I wonder if that school’s hateful…”)
- We started going tracting in earnest this week. I’ll be brutally honest…tracting isn’t fun. I don’t exactly look forward to it. (The fact that it’s fairly hot and humid outside…though like I said last week, it’s cooled down a bit since my first few days here…doesn’t particularly help. :)) On top of that, the people in our area aren’t particularly receptive to our message. Still, I never feel like it’s a waste of time…we haven’t really gotten any slammed doors yet (when people aren’t interested, they usually either kindly tell us “no,” or in most cases agree to take a pamphlet, which is good), and we’ve had one or two potential investigators so far, so that’s a start. I know tracting is an essential part of finding in missionary work, and as unexciting as it may be, it’s very important, and I know it will really help us. I still need to work on speaking up more at door approaches, and all that, but I’m able to have a positive attitude every time we go out tracting, and I’m very grateful for that, and for the opportunity to go knocking on doors and sharing our message in the first place. Like everything in missionary work, it all works out. 🙂
- So I’m sending off the pictures I printed last week today. To be once again brutally honest, they’re kind of boring, and there’s only 17 of them. (All of them are either from the MTC or my first day here in the mission.) I haven’t taken too many pictures here yet, but I promise I’ll make them more exciting. 🙂 In the letter I included with the pictures, I asked you guys about sheet music…Ariel, if there’s any piano solo-y sheet music you’re willing to part with (If You Could Hie To Kolob, miedo y fe, the Jon Schmidt book, etc.), I would love to have it, since I’m able to be around a piano on P-days, and occasionally a few other times in the week, and it would be great to have a bigger variety of music to play. 🙂
- Mom, question: Where did “Tuti” come from again? I was talking with Sister Atagi (one of the members we’re staying with…as I wrote about last week, she just got baptized) about nicknames last night, and I couldn’t remember for the life of me the story behind “Tuti.” I want to say it’s what Ariel called me when she was too young to say my name, but I’m not sure. (Dad, I also told her about how you shout “B!” every time I call, which I absolutely love. And I told her too, Mom and Geo, about how Geo calls me “Brandon Lee.” :D)
- Have you ever heard of chiggers? They’re these ridiculous tiny little bugs they have down here in Kansas and Missouri, that hide in grass, shrubs, etc., and crawl up you and leave little bites (Mom, I can already see you cringing…), kind of like mosquito bites. Thankfully, they’re not poisonous or anything (much like mosquitoes when they’re not carrying West Nile), but they are annoying, and I’ve had about three or four pop up in the past week. Sigh. Insects continue to haunt me. 🙂
- I don’t know how I left this out of my email last week, but both me and my companion are not assigned as Spanish-speaking missionaries here, so I haven’t gotten too much chance to use my Spanish. Still, I’m doing language study every day, which keeps up my grammar, at least, and the other day, while I was at the stake center helping put away chairs after a dinner appointment really quick, I talked to someone in the stake who went to Colombia on his mission years ago, and we had a little conversation in Spanish. I was just a tiny bit rusty, but it went well. I’ll make sure to keep up my skills, so when I go to Peru, I won’t have to start all over again. (Fun fact: My companion is also Hispanic…his mom is from Mexico, and his dad went on a Spanish-speaking mission and is still fluent…but like me, they never taught it to him, so he knows very little Spanish. That’s crazy how that worked out…two Hispanic companions with American last names that both grew up around Spanish, but aren’t fluent. :))
- Mom, I got the CD player set up (now that I can listen to music, since in the MTC we weren’t allowed to), and it works great, so thank you again for sending that. 🙂 You’ll also be happy/shocked to know that I wore those shorts you made me buy at the MTC multiple times, and I actually like them, so I’ll be wearing them every so often. I should know this by now, but I guess I still have to learn that you’re always right. 🙂 By the way, about the pajama pants…so since Elder Armijo is in the same mission as I am right now, if you want to, you can just send them directly to him, since it’s the same address. You can also just send them to me and I’ll get them to him, so either way works. If you do want to send them right to him, just address it to “Elder Patricio Armijo” at the address above, and like I said, they’ll forward it right to where he lives.
- So that same night I talked to someone in the stake in Spanish, as we were heading back to the car, I ran into Mellissa Costello! Small world. Apparently she’s back living in Leavenworth (if I know my Kansas cities right, it’s the city right next to where her family lived) now, and since it was a multi-stake YSA function they were having that night, she was there. She said the Costellos are in St. George now (I had forgotten they were moving to Utah). It was fun to see a familiar face…what are the odds? (It also just reminded me of something…a few years ago, I was with Kelsey & Chase Thomas seeing the temple lights…they were giving me a ride home or something, and we decided to go over there for a little bit…and we ran into Ben Costello, when he was on his mission in Tempe, and they got a picture with him. And then that reminds me of how Ben works at Linton-Milano’s now, and we were co-workers for a day…or at least he did when I left. The Costellos just keep popping up all over. :))
- Saturday was Bastille Day, so I hope you properly observed it. 🙂 (Explanation: On July 14, 1789, French revolutionaries stormed the Bastille, a large French fortress/prison. It’s celebrated today as a major event in the French Revolution. Since I’m a nerd, and I loved reading “A Tale of Two Cities” in eighth grade [it’s about the French Revolution, and the storming of the Bastille is a key plot point], and absolutely no one has heard of it here in the U.S., I love pointing it out when that day comes every year. Good luck, future companion next year in Peru in July, wherever you are right now… :)) Sunday, I thought was Cow Appreciation Day (a holiday that I believe was created by Chick-Fil-A, for obvious reasons), but apparently it was actually Friday, so I think it’s probably the second Friday in July or something. (At our dinner appointment last night, one of their twin daughters works there, and made sure to request Friday off, since they do a special thing where you get discounts if you dress up as a cow, either partly or fully. Apparently her boss gets really cranky if they get the discounts wrong, so she didn’t want to deal with the extra stress. :)) So I was two days late, but I did get to celebrate anyhow, on Sunday. I’ve told the Atagis about my dream of hugging a cow, and we drive by a few big fields and pastures on our way back from Church every week. Brother Atagi was talking about how he could drive over the fence for a little bit, which was freaking me out, but we ended up just having me roll down my window, shouting, “I love you, cow!” to a cow that was grazing nearby. (I also mooed. :D) Just so you know I’m still carrying my love for cows into the mission field… 🙂 (P.S.: We do service every week at a place called the Deanna Rose Farmstead, which is, as its name implies, a farm. It’s kind of a big family attraction here in Overland Park/Olathe. This past Tuesday, we were running the fishing shack…they have a pond right next to it where you can fish, and at the fishing shack, you pay for a pole rental [which comes with a bucket of worms], pony rides, and bottles of milk [they use a special milk replacer that’s safe for goats/cows/etc.] to feed the goats in the goat pen. [They are very popular…we had a bit of trouble keeping up with the demand.] They also sell snacks and drinks there too. We were there for most of the morning, and it was good…it kind of reminded me of work, actually, since I was running the register part of the time, and when I was filling up milk bottles the other part of the time, it oddly enough felt reminiscent of stuffing bags with flyers at good old Linton-Milano’s. :))
- Story time, the sequel: So last night was a fun dinner appointment with a family called the Hennefers. Brother Hennefer is in the High Priests, and has a ton of hilarious stories, as it turns out. He was telling about how he went on his mission to Boston years ago (apparently back then they had a group of missionaries called to Brazil waiting there for their visas…and they ended up staying in Boston for the whole 2 years. It’s a good thing I love it here, because otherwise I would be freaked out now… :)), and the rules were much looser then…he had a lot of fun stories about that. One time someone they were teaching gave them a pair of tickets…front row, Sunday night, to the semifinals of the U.S. Open, the last year before it moved to New York. They were flipping out, and someone in their stake who was into tennis told them, “Oh, you have to use those tickets, they’re incredible.” So that Sunday, they went to sacrament meeting, left right afterwards, had a change of clothes in the car, and went to the U.S. Open. His companion hadn’t been to a pro tennis match before, so he was getting all excited, amazed at all the tennis pros they saw up close (this was back in the 70s, so it was legends like Bjorn Borg and Jimmy Connors), and Bro. Hennefer said it was an amazing time. That week in his letter to the mission president, he put a “Mr. Borg” and a “Mr. Connors” as new investigators. 🙂 A few days later, he was at the mission home, and walked by his mission president, who asked how Mr. Borg and Mr. Connors were doing. Bro. Hennefer replied that they were fine, and then his president asked, “How was the Open?” Without thinking, Bro. Hennefer started to answer, “Oh, it was…” and then realized what was going on. 🙂 He asked how his president knew, and his mission president responded, “Elder, anything that big is televised.” He told them they had shown something on the news about the Open, and had panned right through the audience. He said, “I wouldn’t have noticed you two, but your companion was standing up and cheering in the front row.” (Yeah, things are much different now. Dad, I’d love to hear some of your mission stories in your letters sometime, by the way. :))
- Nate and Livi, I LOVED your emails. I’m still jealous that you guys got to see “Brave.” And Nathan, you like Florence + The Machine?!?!?!? I am very delighted. (On the other hand, it saddens me, Livi, that Aubree has joined you in hating “The I Love You Song.” Sigh. But good on you for listening to “What It Means To Be A Friend.” :)) Livi, I love how you called yourself Boo. You’ve finally embraced your true heritage. 🙂 Yes, I do still like chicken. (I’ve actually eaten it a lot here so far.) And get to bed earlier! (Switching on my old man voice) In my day, we went to bed at 8:00 when I was your age, you young whippersnappers. 🙂 (Hey, I still have to be a good big brother to you guys, even when I’m on my mission.) I’ll make sure to write you both separate letters this time, though I may be sending them in the same envelope. We’ll see. 🙂
- In fact, I’ll work on some letters today, most likely. Granny, I’m still waiting on your addresses. I have a letter, sitting in an envelope, just waiting to be sent, so I’d love to have Auntie Sandra’s/Auntie Katie’s addresses so I can send it to you. (I may have to write you another one, too, to update you on how Kansas is going. :)) (And for some reason I just thought of, “I’m just a bill, I’m just a bill, a-sittin’ here on Capitol Hill…”)
- Which reminds me of voting. I’m not sure when the primary elections are back in AZ, but I’m pretty positive that they’re coming up soon. If they’re while I’m still here in Kansas, you can probably just send me my ballot and I can fill it out and send it back. If I’m in Peru, we can just go with the emailing-me-the-stuff-on-the-ballot-and-I’ll-email-back-with-who-I-want-to-vote-for plan. My ballots should be coming by mail, since I checked the box on the form to get my ID that I wanted to be on the early voting list. Check when the next election is, and let me know if my ballot doesn’t come in a few weeks or so beforehand. At any rate, make sure to send it in by whatever the deadline is, or just drop it off at the polls on election day if you forget. Keep me posted.
- Ariel, could you email Sister Thomas my farewell talk? (It should be in My Documents, if I recall correctly, and I think I labeled it with “Farewell Talk” or something.) Her email should be in my personal email account somewhere. I totally meant to send it to her before I left, but as with many things, as you’ve seen, I didn’t. 🙂 Also, remember to put up pictures on Facebook (and change my profile picture/cover photo accordingly) if you haven’t already, whenever you get the chance.
- I just remembered…have you got my patriarchal blessing yet? If so, be sure to send it when you can.
So I think that covers all the stuff I wrote down (and yeah, while I was typing I thought of more… :)). I love you all so much, and I know a big part of the reason my mission is so wonderful so far is because of all your prayers and love and support. Like I’ve said many times before, it really means a lot to me. I know with all my heart this Gospel is true, that the Book of Mormon is true, that this is the truth. I’m so grateful I get the chance to share it. I’m still learning, I’m still growing, I still have lots of work to do, both here and later on in Peru. It’s hard sometimes, it’s difficult, it’s different…but I know with the Lord at my side, I have help…I have strength…and I have nothing to fear. It’s a wonderful promise the Lord has given me, and I know I need to do all I can with that promise. In whatever you do day to day, remember that when you’re faithful and diligent, the Lord is always with you. When you keep that in mind, you can’t go wrong. 🙂
Con todo mi amor (Nathan, you’re awesome for using this in your email :)),