Still cranking out the Kansas-related titles. So what exactly does a luau, rhubarb, and marbles have to do with my past week? Travel down to the bullets, as usual, and all will be revealed. 🙂 But first (I feel like I’m a newscaster…), a little Visa Watch update…we had interviews with President Keyes this past week, and right before our interviews, we have a nice little chat with Sister Keyes. She was saying Elder Armijo (who’s still over by Wichita) & I were scheduled to depart on August 11…and I was really confused, because I still haven’t heard any updates on my visa. I asked Pres. Keyes about it, and he explained it’s kind of a target date…so if I get my visa before then, that’s pretty much when I’ll be leaving. If I don’t, as usual it’s unclear (what else is new? :)), but I’ll probably be leaving sometime around the next transfer (in late September), I would guess, since as the APs told me a few weeks ago they usually send missionaries out around transfers now. So…I guess I would say to tentatively plan for August 11 or so, but as has been the case since way back in May, things are quite liable to change. 🙂 (Also in my interview with Pres. Keyes, he admonished me to not forget my visa before I leave. He was saying if I was to take anything from the interview…to remember that. I asked him if he’d had any experiences in the past with that…and he said he definitely had. One missionary missed his flight once, apparently, because he didn’t grab his visa at the mission office on the way to the airport…the mission office that EVERY departing visa waiter stops at. With Pres. and Sis. Keyes. For the specific purpose of picking up their visa before they leave. Yeah. Probably not one of the bright ones there… :))
- So, on Saturday night we went to a luau over in Independence with the Atagis. It was a fundraiser for a rugby club there called the Islanders, and Tui lived in Independence for quite a while, so I’m pretty sure he knew a bunch of the people there. We got permission from Pres. Keyes and everything to go to it (since it was out of our zone), and it was a really cool experience. The food was very good…and I even learned a lesson (again) about not judging food by its appearance. There were some kind of clear noodles there with chicken in them, and because they looked really weird I passed on them. My companion Elder Leighton, however, was persistent, and had me try some…and sweet mama, were they good. I was humbled. 🙂 They also had a little live Hawaiian music, and then a terrific show filled with dances from Tonga, Samoa, Fiji, Hawaii, and all those kinds of places…we were right up close, and it was amazing. Both the guys and the girls were wearing authentic dress, and just being immersed in that culture for a night…wow. I loved it. Mom, it kind of reminded me a little bit of yours and Geo’s wedding reception (the second one)…because it was a fundraiser, people would go up and throw money on the floor (or at the dancers), which made me think a bit of how people pinned money on your dress at the reception. Also, a few ladies (one of them older, another that looked pretty young) randomly went up to dance with the boys when they were doing one of their dances…it was hilarious. They were jamming and having a blast. (They also had a little audience participation segment…one of the ladies they brought up, who didn’t look Polynesian whatsoever, was dancing like she’d been born in Hawaii. :))
- Fun side note: I think I’ve mentioned this in an email before, but we’re pretty dang close to the Kansas/Missouri border (which, because of Kansas City, is a very open border…kind of like New Jersey/New York…it’s the opposite of Arizona, where you have to drive a few hours or more through basically the middle of nowhere just to get to another state)…in fact, we figured out a week or two ago that we could probably walk to the border from a certain part of our area (though it would require leaving our zone, so we won’t be doing that anytime soon)…we kind of straddle it. Anyway, I thought it was funny that this past week, I went to another state and back. 🙂 (I didn’t even notice when we crossed into Missouri on the way there…I was distracted for a second, and then we were in Missouri. :))
- So, rhubarb. (I always seem to have a food-related section in these emails, don’t I?) Last night at our dinner appointment, they had pork chops with some rhubarb mixture on top of them…and it was very interesting. I didn’t hate it…it was just a VERY in-your-face taste. Like really sour, but sweet…almost candy-like. It kind of clashed with the pork chops in a way…but I ate a bunch of it (there was a point where I couldn’t handle it anymore…there was only a tiny bit left on my plate, though), so there you go. Granny, I remember you mentioning rhubarb every so often, so maybe in a few years when I’m back home I’ll have to eat some with you. 🙂
- Speaking of you, Granny…I just reread your email from a few weeks ago, and noticed that you said you were going to Aunt Susie’s the end of July. Since it’s the end of July, and I have her address, I guess I can finally send off my letter to you. 🙂 Be sure to check the mailbox. I still would love to have Aunt Sandra’s and Aunt Katie’s addresses, though…I want to write them letters, too.
- And speaking of letters…I promise I’m working on them. I’ll write to all of you. In the interest of full disclosure, Ariel, your letter is almost done. I hope it’ll be worth the wait. 🙂 (And in terms of letters I’ve received, I’ve gotten two from Ariel and one from Livi so far. If any of you have sent any others, I haven’t gotten them yet, but that might be partly because our addresses might still be switched at the mission office…the other elders called them again to try to straighten that out, so hopefully now it’s actually fixed…and just that the mail is slow in general. And if you haven’t sent any letters lately, then never mind. :))
- This week for a few days, we had one of Tui’s kids (from his second relationship), Keani, come to visit. He’s about 10, and he’s a really sweet kid…very rambunctious, but very fun to be around. He stays with his mom most of the time, but every month or so, he stays with Denise & Tui. Denise’s mom also came to visit on Friday and Saturday, and she was very nice. Anyways, we played a few games with them…marbles (it was actually kind of like “Trouble”…they used a marble board, which I’d never really seen before…Denise’s mom won, which is apparently a regular occurrence, but I got second), croquet out in the backyard (I lost badly our first game, but co-won in the second one…the first shot, I hit it right through the first wicket, and did very well throughout, but Elder Leighton was trailing me the whole time…it eventually got to where if I hit it in the last two wickets, I’d hit him in too. So we both basically won, since our balls got through at the same time), and Monopoly (with just Keani, Elder Leighton, and I). Keani is a Monopoly champion, it seems, and he plays where you can put hotels and houses on anything you own…you don’t have to wait to own all the colors. So he somehow built up tons of cash, put hotels on a few of his properties, and slowly but surely ran us to the ground. (He actually helped us out a lot…there were a few times we landed on his hotel-of-death spaces and he cut us some really good deals, mostly by taking one of our properties instead of us having to pay him and go broke…but it wasn’t enough. He was a beast. :)) Elder Leighton went bankrupt first, and I was holding on for dear life for a while, but it was a lost cause. He was too strong. 🙂
- So my companion, Elder Leighton, is awesome. (I hope I’ve already made that clear. :)) Something I haven’t mentioned yet, though, is that he’s absolutely terrific on the piano. He actually can’t read music…he’s one of those freaks of nature who can play amazingly by ear, and pick out stuff really well, so he knows tons of songs that way, and can just play a bunch of things off the top of his head. It boggles my mind, basically.
- That leads into a fun little companion moment we had the other morning…we were staying down in the basement because our beds upstairs were taken, and Elder Leighton was jamming on his keyboard a little bit. (He got a new keyboard this past week…long story, ask me later. :)) He started playing some dramatic/scary music, and asked if I knew any creepy stories. So I started telling the following, while he played:
- “It was a dark and stormy night…and someone was walking down a dark path–like the path to hell. But it wasn’t. It was to a beach. [dramatic pause] But the beach was on fire.” (We then started laughing so much that I couldn’t keep going. :))
- We helped someone move this week, an investigator that the zone leaders are teaching. He had a bunch of pretty heavy furniture items, but we handled it pretty well, and it didn’t take too long. (We’re actually also helping someone in our ward move today, in a hour or two…yes, on P-day…and we helped Denise move a huge armoire from her niece’s apartment over back to her house, so we’re doing a lot of moving lately. :)) Anyways, his roommate was this crazy older lady, and at one point, she was talking to her plants. As if they were children. “You guys haven’t seen this much activity in a while, have you?” I can understand talking to dogs and cats (heck, I do it almost more than I talk to people sometimes… :)), but plants…yeah, it weirded all of us out. (One of the zone leaders also started doing a stretch or two, and she was going, “Everyone needs to stretch! Stretch out your calves…this is community exercise time!” Which would normally be that weird, but she seriously seemed very dotty.) We kind of made a running joke out of it for a little while…when we got back in the car and we were talking, we kept going, “You haven’t seen this much activity in a while, have you?” 🙂
- So as I mentioned in a previous email, we do service every week at the Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead, a 12-acre farm that’s a pretty steady family attraction here in the Overland Park area. Usually we help out on Tuesdays, but for the past two weeks, we did service on Fridays, since our interviews with Pres. Keyes were on Tuesday, and we switched with our neighboring zone so they could go to their interviews on a Friday (when they had service at the farmstead), and we could go on a Tuesday (when we had service). Anyways, on Friday, I was with a really cool elder from our zone named Elder Rowley (he’s leaving in late August), and we had a very cushy assignment…working the ticket booth. It’s the only place volunteers work that’s air-conditioned (all the main buildings, like the ice cream parlor, bank, schoolhouse, etc., are, but the fishing shack, mining shack, and the goat pen aren’t)…we had a little unit in the corner…and we had nice chairs to sit on. We each had a register, so we didn’t get backed up (we didn’t get terribly busy anyhow…on Fridays the farmstead is a bit slower since they charge admission on weekends, but it’s free on weekdays), people were generally nice and didn’t have any issues for us to deal with, and overall, we were very glad we ended up with the job we did. (Apparently the sister missionaries usually man the ticket booth when the other zone does service, which makes sense. :)) Side note: We have a radio with us in whatever area we’re working in, though we don’t usually end up using it. It was going off, and one of the staff members said to another staff member to call her about something. That reminded me of a song (what else is new? :)), and I sang a bar of “Call Me Maybe.” Elder Rowley and I then had it stuck in our heads for the rest of the morning…he kept singing it every so often, which was pretty funny. (It’s a really catchy song…)
- We actually went back the next day to help out with their 12th Annual Chicken Run…they have kids of all age groups run around the path. The really young kids have a shorter path (it took them about a minute or so to run around it), and after that, for the older kids, it was kind of a circle around the farmstead. I have no idea what it was distance-wise, but probably about 1/4 of a mile at most, maybe less. So a few of us were in the staging area, corralling the kids and having them line up by age. It wasn’t too bad, though they had some of those kids waiting for a while for their race, and it was kind of hot outside. (Most of their parents were kind of around the area, so if one of the boys or girls were flipping out, their mom or dad swooped in and helped comfort them and get them back in the line.) There were about 15 races or so (the numbers really started thinning out when we got to 11-12 year olds…they had both the boys and girls run together for that one, since there were only 4 girls, and 2 boys in that age group), and then they had an adult race. The numbers were really small for that one, too, so they asked us volunteers if we wanted to participate. You know me and how I hate running…but I had nothing else to do, and we would get a medal if we ran, so I threw caution to the wind and joined in. I didn’t get last…but holy crap, that race nearly about killed me. My companion actually threw up…and I felt pretty close to doing so for the next hour or so, but I held off. (I think it’s partly because since I get motion sickness all the time on car trips and whatnot, I’m used to keeping myself from throwing up…though I’m not always successful.) I was just spent beyond words. (And out of shape. But that’s kind of a given.) We had to throw in the towel and take a nap when we got home, because both of us felt pretty much sick afterwards (our stomachs were hating it…I didn’t feel like eating anything for a while). Basically, running is evil. But I got a medal! I’m sure as heck holding on to that thing for dear life, because I didn’t run that race and almost throw up for nothing. 🙂
- Speaking of physical activity…since we didn’t have the car this past week, we usually walk to our appointments (or get a ride from whoever our dinner appointment is to their house, for, well, dinner). We had a referral we were going to go contact, and it was a big walk, but we thought we could handle it. About 45 minutes later, we were only about 3/4 of the way there, sweating up a storm, almost out of water, and we had our dinner appointment coming to pick us up back at the house in about an hour. Since we wouldn’t get much of a visit if we continued on to wherever the referral lived (we’d pretty much have had to say “Hi!” and “Bye!” and take off), we reluctantly decided to turn right back around, and walked all the way home. When we got back to the house, we were incredibly thankful for cool air and cold water. (The good thing is, we were able to kind of laugh it off…eventually. 🙂 We basically walked for a hour and a half for nothing, but that’s part of missionary work. Sometimes you just have to walk, and walk, and walk, and walk. I jokingly refer to it now as our “Walk To Nowhere,” which is a play on the “Bridge To Nowhere” from a few years ago in politics.)
- So the Olympics…I guess they actually started on Friday, not Tuesday. We’ve seen bits and pieces of them here and there (Tui loves watching them), but since we’re, y’know, missionaries, it’s pretty much just in passing. Anyways, I love the Olympics, and miss them. Go USA! 🙂
An insight from my scripture study this week…in 2 Nephi 4, in verse 11, Lehi is talking to Sam and how he will be blessed because of his faithfulness. Here’s what I wrote in my study journal about it: “Sam is a great example of quiet obedience. He’s rarely mentioned/honored in the Book of Mormon–but when he is, it’s something good. He’s faithful without fanfare–and because of that, he was blessed with Nephi’s posterity. When we’re righteous, it doesn’t matter if it’s known or not–we’ll all be blessed in the end.” Yeah, we never hear much about Sam in the scriptures…but whenever he pops up, it’s always about how he followed Nephi, or listened to his father’s counsel, or something to that effect. He was clearly very dependable, very faithful, very diligent. He may not be the star of 1 and 2 Nephi, but he doesn’t need to be…he was a great example simply by being consistently obedient.
We taught the Plan of Salvation twice this week…once to a husband of a member, and last evening to our new investigator from the previous week, the roommate of that less-active member I talked about. Both experiences went very well…Elder Leighton has a little set of cutouts to illustrate the Plan (he always starts out explaining, “These might make you feel like you’re 3, but they really explain it really well.” :)), and he’s had me teach a few parts too. It’s much easier teaching in English than Spanish (when we were in the MTC, we kept looking at the English missionaries and going, “How are THEY having trouble? They don’t have to learn a language!” :))…but it’s still a bit of a daunting task. (So I can definitely see why people struggle. I definitely do sometimes.) Still, I’m learning every time I teach, and I’ve had a really positive experience with it so far. I can really feel the Lord helping me as I keep growing…and that’s a wonderful thing. 🙂
I’m so happy to be here in Kansas…gosh, it’s going to be really hard to leave. I feel like my mission’s just begun…well, I guess it has, but yeah, there’s so much I want to accomplish here. I’m so excited to go to Peru, and I know when it’s time for me to head on out there, it’ll be exactly the right time…the Lord has everything planned out just right…but this feels like where I’m supposed to be right now, and I could see myself staying here the whole 2 years, and so while it’s so great I get, as we joked in the MTC before we left, “2 missions for the price of one,” the fact that I have to leave the first one after only a short time is a bit of a downside. But I’m here for a reason, I’m having wonderful experiences, I have an absolutely terrific companion, great people we’re teaching…and while I’m here, I’m making the most of it. The Lord knows what I need, what the people of Kansas, and what the people of Peru need. He knows exactly what companion I was supposed to be with, what area I was supposed to be in (hence the reason I got switched at the last minute…for some reason, I needed to be here in the Indian Creek Ward with Elder Leighton), what people I’m supposed to find…all that. And all I need to do is trust in Him, and I can unlock all of the amazing blessings that come from following His will. It’s hard sometimes to trust completely in Heavenly Father and all His twists and turns…but it’s always rewarding. I have a testimony of that, a testimony that’s growing by the day. I love my Heavenly Father and my Savior, I’m thankful for the wonderful opportunity I have to share His Gospel, and I know that this Church is true. I really do. These are things that us in the Church testify of a lot…but hopefully every time we testify of them, we mean it. I know I do. And I’m thankful for the chance I have right now to have it mean more and more to me every single day.
Con mucho amor,