Friday, June 29, 2012

June 25, 2012 (MTC-6)

FAMILIA! HOW IS everybody? I love each and everyone of you and I pray for you all. This is God's work. AND I'm playing a huge part in it. As a missionary, I am presented with countless opportunities every day to Feel the spirit and touch peoples lives and teach and experience and live my life according to will of God. Which, I've discovered, is the only way to true joy.

OKAY. So this week is Mission president week (which means that all of the new mission presidents that are going to be going to their respective missions) are at the MTC, which ALSO means that several of the brethern are here as well. Like my two old zone leaders saw Russell M. Nelson walk in through the front doors. And Holland is here too, FOR SURE. However, the security is super right right now too and half of the lunch room is closed off which emans that the lines are like AN HOUR long which blows. But it's cool, because we're supposedly having somebody really BIG speaking tomorrow. Possibly Monson or Uchtdorf or Eyring. I would KILL someone if it was Eyring because I'd be so stoked.

So most of the elders in my district participate in Martes Partes (which means Tuesday Parts) which is basically all of us putting super nerdy parts in our hair on Tuesdays and it's great. Moving on...
On Tuesday night, after the devotional, I had a discussion with the zone leaders and President Ricks (who I can do an AWESOME impression of in case you were wondering) and we talked all about one of the elders in the zone who is really struggling. I can't really go into detail but it was a really interesting discussion and I learned a lot just about being a leader and caring for your district. After the meeting, Brother Morgan (Ray) came up to me and said he felt impressed to tell me that I was made district leader because there were certain ways taht I could relate to and help certain individuals in the district and I should reach out to them. THEN, about 10 minutes later, The two new zone leaders said pretty much the same thing. So I talked to that Elder. We talked for a while, probably longer than we should have and after our convo he expressed his gratifude for my words and friendship. God knows positions we need to be called into and he knows that YOU can help peopel in ways you never thought possible. I am grateful for the love God has given me and for the spirit that he uses to direct us for good.

I want to listen to The Beatles so bad.

Elder Waite and I taught an amazing lesson, filled with the Spirit the other day. Our "investigator" Fernando, is a reitred Catholic priest. We talked about repentance and baptism and he is SO CLOSE to committing to baptism. But at the end we offered to give hime a blessing of peace and understanding and he gladly accteped. After, Hermano Snyder was like "That was AWESOME. Good idea with the blessing. That made your lesson so personal and powerful." We felt so grand afterwards.
I'm so happy to be a missionary. It's so rewarding, especially when you work as hard as you can. I feel like God wants me here all the time and I'm truly making the right decisions.
This is for the friends: HEY. I loved hearing about your Moab trip. It sounded super dreamy and I was a wee bit sad I wasn't there. But it's alright, because I'm HERE.
Love you all. 

If you could meet and see all the Elders in my district, these would mean so much more to you and you'd see how awesome I am with the metaphors and objects.
Johnson: grain silo
Gibbons: cavity (in a tooth)
Braithwaite: real estate commercial
Peterson: a rook (chess piece)
Romrell: Red Baron's plane
Allen: circus clown
Waite: RAINDROP, goldfish
Hardy: a pair of green overalls
Chipman: oak tree.
So awesome. I'm way proud of these.

DAD: thanks for the pictures of camping. I got way nostalgic but it made me happy to know you guys are taking advantage of summer. It's awesome that Sam was with you guys too. I feel like Natalie and I are going to be chunky dweebos when we come back. OUR family is the coolest. Lars is even gettting cool. Oh I saw him with that bandana and semi shaggy hair. Man I love all you guys.
Mom: Thanks for the emails and updates. Love you. Continue to write me.

Finn and Lars: I want to hear from you again. Love you both. Finn, I was singing Mr. Tambourine Man the other day and my roommate just kept looking at me weird and being like "Who is that..." and I was like "It's DYLAN MAN." And he didn't really understand how great Dylan was. Listen to Jokerman for me, you dweeb.

CHRIS: write me

Hayley: LOVED YOUR LETTER. Gosh it was the best. I'm so stoked to finish writing you back today.

TANNER::  Baby, Darling, Dollface, Honey. I seriously got more stoked then I ever have been in my entire life to see that written on the front of your letter. I started singing it immediately and couldn't get it out of my head for like 3 days. You're the best. Loved your letter, loved you updates. I'm writing you back today COOL??

Bayley: you're just the greatest.

Bekah: Miss and love you. You're huge letter meant so much. I love having hot girl friends to write to. Especially cause I'm so close to all of you and I love you all so much.

KENT: WRITE me man. I love and miss you.


JAEZOOO: If you read this, write me a letter por favor.

My dad has been sending me poetry here and there and it's cool to know of the collection of comforting words I will posses towards the end of my mission.
Last thing: my Spanish is totally improving. I feel really confident and good and I just want to get to New Jersey already because I know that I'll be able to learn twice as much once I get there.
ALSO something to think about: I have learned more about La Expiacion de Jesucristo (The Atonement of Jesus Christ) in the time I've been here than in my entire life. It's such an incredible act and thing that I don't think I'll ever understand it completely. So everyone, take time to think about what The Lord, Jesus has done for you.

God loves all of you.


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

June 18, 2012 (MTC-5)

Hola errbody.

First off, let me just say how grateful I am to have A) the greatest family ever B) The greatest best-friend's-grandma ever (Sergene Bennion has sent me 3 packages so far) and C) the best friends ever. I'm so glad I'm not the depressed missionary that never gets any mail.

-Dad: Brother Williams (1st counselor in the branch presidency has a super nice pair of brown Allen Edmonds. We talked about shoes for like 20 minutes last night. It was awesome.
-I am now the new DISTRICT LEADER. Scary. I'm in charge of the 9 other elders in my district and now I have to go to meetings and stuff on Sundays and Tuesdays. It's going to be good, though and it's exactly what I need as I was feeling kind of crappy this week. I feel like I can really make a difference in the mood and mindset of these missionaries that have become my friends.

-On Tuesday, Elder Per G. Malm (from Sweden) spoke to us. His talk was really good, talking about the three pillars of missionary work and the way we can best use our time and energy as missionaries. He also said some scary stuff like how all of us are going to be continually tempted, even on our missions and how all of us are going to be tempted to commit "priestcraft" in one way or another. It's strange to think of the things that could be considered as "priestcraft" in our time.
We have been watching more of those 1-in-8-million presentations, a project by New York Times. And we practice teaching people as if they were from those videos. The photos of New York are so rad and I knew New Jersey is going to be prety similar as far as the architecture and the people and whatnot. Gahhhh! I'm just dying to get out and preach already. I feel like I've already begun developing a love for people, that their souls are already in my hands and I'm so EXCITED for the oppurtunity to preach to them and simply talk and share the message that I have which is beautiful. I've finally come to the realization that EVERYONE can benefit from joining the church and that anyone who hears this message CAN feel the goodness and powwer from it, because it is coming directly from God. I love being an instrument, just stepping back and saying, "Lord, what do you want me to do today?" I know obedience and humility are some of the most important attributes a missionary can develop, so THAT is waht I'm really working on.

THANKS TO EVERYONE who sent me lettters. I don't even use the computers in the laundry room anymore because it's like a freaking sauna in there and I get gross pit stains every time I try to type emails itn there. Most STRESSSFUL place in the MTC.

-Today, we did sealings in the temple (and it was really cool and intereesting and a little boring) HOWEVER, we had a bunch of names from a Sioux tribe and some of the names were like "Stinking Bear" and "Old Woman Gap" but the one that took the prize was "Fat Boy Scabby Face". Everyone in the room was cracking up, even the sealer and I was trying so hard to not bust up at the altar. Man, how could someone name their child that?....... "Uh hi I'm uh... Fat Boy Scabby Face....."
A couple of nights ago, we all just say in the classroom and quoted Dumb and Dumber and it was pretty hilarious. THEN we were talking about the last Friday we're here (which is basically nonstop orientaition for the field all day) And one the elders was like "I wonder what we'll do for meals on that day.." and Elder Peterson (who's chubby, hilarious and kind of a slacker but he's  cool) said "They'll be like 'Well Jesus fasted for 40 days so I think all of you can handle 1 day' and I'll be like 'Yeah well... we're not Jesus......... So BURGER ME.'" It was pretty freaking hilarious. He's a total prog rock kind of guy. He loves Sounds of Animals Fighting, Between the Buried and Me, Yes, Rush, and a bunch of weird prog metal bands. We talk about music sometimes.

Kai - If you read this, I've been putting your name in the temple and praying for you. I hope your court stuff goes well. I love you and I'd love to hear from you.

I feel like my english is already becoming retarted. There have been WAY MORE than 1 incident where I can't remember, for the life of me, what the English word for something is. My brain is just being crammed with Spanish, day and night. I've already had snippets of dreams in Spanish. It's weird. Even though my spanish sucks I really just want to preach the gospel and talk with people on the street already. I know I wouldn't understand a whole lot but I feel like God is DEFINITELY on my side and he'd give me a hand, duh.

Thanks so much for the package with the healthy snacks (everyone was jealous of my naked coconut water) and my shoes and DAD: the poetry is the BEST. It's totally sustaining me, creatively and I've been reading Prufrock A TON. So seriously thanks for that.
BEKAH - Thanks again for your letter, I'm writing you TODAY. And you're first. SOrry it's taken me so long i've been a wee bit busy this week.
MARY - thanks for the letter, writing you back this week too.
EVA - write me PLEASE. I would LOVE to hear how you're doing!
TAnner - write me you freaking rocket ship.
Bayley - sorry I didn't warn you earlier about Elder Romrell. He's cool though and he was a wee bit depressed about not getting a whole lot of mail.
Mom - Love you. Thanks for all your emails. Write me too. I love handwritten letters from you. And thanks for the spanish tips.

I did a tie swap the other night with a Scottish guy going to Leon France. We chatted about men's fashion and I got a couple of skinny ties from him. He left today though.

Dad, like I said, I'lll send you my SD card soon. And you can just take all the pictures off and send it back to me ( DONT DELETE THE PHOTOS THOUGH)

HAYLEY. Write me. I've probably got a letter waiting so sorry i've already got one. I want to share a sweet poem with you.

GOD LOVES US ALL. I don't want any of you forgetting that. Remember that the church is one of the most extraordinary foundations you will ever have and it is much more spectacular than any of us could ever understand. Like with the Atonement: I don't think I'll ever fully understand it, not in this life at least. It's so beautiful and the MTC is a prefect place to expound my understanding of one of the most sacred and powerful actions on this earth.


Friday, June 15, 2012

June 11, 2012 (MTC-4)

Elder Waite and I were talking about how stupid the English word "Oh" is. What the FREAK does it even mean?? It can literally mean anything you want it to. Like people that are just like "oh." We were cracking up because it's so stupid.

The more we learn Espanol, the more we learn how ridiculous Enlglish is. Like why is laugh spelled with a "U" and a "G" and an "H"? Crazy. I love learning spanish because it completely opens up your mind to an entirely new and amazing spectrum of language understanding. You learn so much more about your native tongue when you learn another language. At least 5 times a week, someone in our district will mention how we would already be gone if we were English speaking. We als frequently talk of how EASY english missionaries have it. Those dorkwads are here for 3 WEEKS. And then they just get to go speak a language they've been speaking all their lives... WHAT DO THEY EVEN DO IN THE MTC? Because all we do is speak Spanish and learn spanish. Well not ALL we do, but a HUGE portion. Anyway. There's my English speaking missionary rant. Speaking of English, there are two British missionaries in the room next to ours going to Greece on their mission. Also aScottish missionary across the hall. He's got a bunch of really great scottish wool ties. MY TIES kind of suck, I realized. DADDDDDDDDDDDD can you send me some cool skinny ties?? PLEASE! PLEASE. I can even pay for them if you want. And ANYONE ELSE (FRIENDS, ie, Tanner, Chris, Bekah, Hayley, Bayley, Kent, Jae, Sam, ETC) that loves me and wants to send me a gift to make my day... Like a tie. Because seriously, I would love that more than you'll ever know. Just kidding, don't really...... but seriously do.

HOW is everybody doing? I want to start off by saying how much each of you mean to me. I love all of you so much and I'm grateful for this chance I have to at least somewhat communicate with you. I'm grateful for your beautiful support and for all the wonderful things you did for me before I left and CONTINUE to do for me as I am here in the MTC. Every time I go on temple walks on Sunday afternoons and Monday mornings I look out to where my house is, to where Tanner's house is, and to where Hayley's house is (cause they're all practically within sight of where I walk). It's incredible weird how close everyone is. Like the first temple walk I went on, I was so miserable because everyone was so close. So I just sat on a bench like a lemon and stared at my feet, knowing that if looked towards home I'd probably start running away. My mindset has of course changed and I am full of gratitude for the Lord's hand in that. I've come to the brilliant acceptance that it is such a fantastic PRIVELAGE for the Lord to allow me to help him with his work.
Every time I think about getting to New Jersey (Neuvo Yersey en Espanol) I wanna throw up because I'm so stoked. I LOVE people and I love working with them and I WILL love working with people.
ALSO: JUST BECAUSE my letters are being posted to my blog, doesn't mean you can't write me.. BEST FRIENDS ESPECIALLY: you have no idea know amazing a hand written letter is to get.

Hayley, just got your lettter. I'm writing you today.
Tanner: Did you also get my letter?
Bay: You TOO???
Chris: write me man, I miss you.
Bekah: I woke up thinking about you today and I felt like you needed my prayers. So just know that I love you and am praying for you and your family. Write me and let me know how you are doing. (PSYCHE I just got your letter, writing you back today or tomorrow. it was the BESSSSSSSTTTT)

Ok, so I've had 3 migraine headaches / ocular headaches since I've been here. THREE. What the..? Why? I think it might be the food and dehydration (because I hate drinking fountains) and the lack of regular excersise. But they suck and my vision goes NUTS whenever they happen. I had 2 this week which sucked a ton. Like last night, I had tunnel vision with my left eye and a huge chunk of my right was just caved out. So i might have to see the doctor about it. But I'm probably just going to die.

Ok does anyone else (family) love Natalie so much? I think she's hilarious and I'm so glad she's my sister and that we're both serving missions.

My roommate elder Romrell broke his hand this week. Playing basketball. He's pretty funny and his favorite phrases are: "You'd be surprised..." and "that's pretty messed up..." He's great.
Our district might get to usher and give the prayer at the 4th of July devotional. Which means that somebody BIG is going to be there... like Monson or an apostle.
I miss everyone but I'm slowly getting more and more adapted to the missionary lifestyle. It's not bad at all. The rewards are amazing. It's interesting because  

Grandma Sergene Bennion has sent me TWO packages since I've been here. She rocks.
Also, gracias Madre for sending me stuff and also for sending me 18,000 emails. Love you. Haha seriously.
PARENTS: ALSO, send me healthy snacks. AND TELL Jed and Natalie thanks for the baptism pants and Cliff Bars. I've already eaten one of them and it was delicious. THAT's the kind of snacks I like, too, mom and dad. GOOD snacks. Like healthy stuff. Entonces...... (anyway)

I've got to go. Thanks again, everyone for being such an amazing support to this missionary. I'm so glad ALL OF YOU are in my life.

Con amor,
Elder Niels Christensen

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

June 4, 2012 (MTC-3)

To BEGIN, I have a few stories:
1. Elder Allen and Elder Romrell are the other two Elders in mine and Elder Waite's room. And they're awesome. Elder Allen is short and stocky, really kind and a really dedicated hard worker. I really respect him. In the first week, he was sick and we all got the oppportunity to give him a blessing he was 100% better the next day. The priesthood power is so real. ANYWAY, Elder Allen told us that they were in a lesson the other day and he asked the investigator (a retired Catholic priest), "El Pope (he pronounced it PO-PAY) es un profeta?" He TRIED to say "El Papa es un profeta" which means "Is the pope a prophet?" but what he really asked was "Is poop a prophet?" (the word for feces is "popa") And the investigator got all wide-eyed and was like "Whaaaa?? Popa??!" It was pretty freaking hilarious. I laugh every time I think about it. We're all so immature, we can't help it.
ALSO, Elder Allen peed on another Elder's foot in the shower the other day. I almost threw up because I was laughing so hard.
2. I SAW MOM AT THE TEMPLE THIS MORNING. So crazy. I just got into the Celestial room and I looked up and mom was BOOKING it towards me with her arms outstretched. Unfortunately, I could only shake her hand, because she's a woman. Kind of a crazy rule, but I understand it, of course. Anyway, we talked for a few minutes and it was so strange yet awesome at the same time. Love you Mom. So wonderful to see you today (especialmente en el templo).
3. I was ecstatic today because after Elder Waite and I left the temple this morning, he was like "Some guy came up to me, right before you came up to me, and was like 'are you guys Elders from the MTC?' and I was like 'uhh yeah' and he said (take a note of this MATTHEW) 'Make sure your companion shaves next time you guys come.'" I was so stoked to hear that! Because it was p-day, I decided to shave when we got back to our room in the afternoon. So I only had 1 day's worth of stubble. ONE DAY. I got called out which MEANS: My facial hair is coming along nicely. Just everyone wait till I get home and never cut my hair or shave ever again. I'll look like a dirty hippie or something. Or maybe I'll just look like Finn.

Lots of cool spiritual things going on/happened. A) I realized part of the reason we are so tired all the time is because the spirit is practially everywhere here. And you feel it ALL THE TIME. Though you don't notice it enough. Anyway, we were talking about how when Joseph Smith experienced the 1st vision, he was drained afterwards and couldn't stand up immediately after. He regained his strength and THEN he walked home. So I kind of feel like that all the time, except I haven't experienced any life-changing visions yet. I'm counting on few though (only joking).
B) Elder W. Craig Zwick (of the seventy) came to speak with us last Tuesday and he was absolutely amazing. I never thought I could be hit so hard, emotionally and spiritually by someone like that. He gave his talk on the Book of Mormon and challenged all of us as missionaries to read it again, cover to cover. It has changed so many lives and helped so many people. I seriously can't describe the spirit that was there and the way that I felt after his talk. I just wanted him to speak for 20 years straight about the Book of Mormon and doctrine and whatnot.
C) After our  session at the temple today, Elder Waite and I went into the sealing room that his parents were sealed in. It was cool, it was one of the bigger ones. And Elder Waite touched the altar and then put his head down and wept for a few minutes. I put my hand on his shoulder and then I whipped out a tissue and handed it to him and he laughed. But it was a cool experience. I know we are supposed to be here for each other right now. Elder Waite is very inspiring and movitvating.

AHH I'm trying to think of other things that happened today, but my mind is gone right now. I'm planning on writing letters to a few people. I'm not sure who yet though.

Missions are so cool. I don't remember if I told everyone, but my teacher, Hermano Snyder was talking to everyone in the district about what we were actually HERE for. Because God could just give us the language and the words to speak, but we are REALLY HERE to have a better understanding of Christ and to increase our personal testimony of the Atonement. We are at the MTC to learn how to love people and become closer to Christ. There is NOTHING in the missionary purpose that says something about mastering the language. I was pretty stoked on that even though the language is coming along nicely.

Sorry this letter sucks. I'm kind of absent minded and spacey right now.
I love everyone and everyone should know that I miss all of you and pray for you.

OH LAST THING. Tanner, Hayley, Bayley: All of your letters were INCREDIBLE. I was so inspired and felt so loved and supported. The first week when I got letters from friends, I just was super homesick and just wanted to hear their words to distract me. NOW they are the best thing ever because they inspire me to be a better, more dedicated missionary.

KENT: write me
FINN: write me

SEND MY camera and don't forgot to post these on my blog because I want everyone to see it.

Elder Niels Christensen

May 28, 2012 (MTC-2)

Today is technically the start of the third week. To think that I've already been here that long is insane.
OK before I forget, I want to tell you about a cool experience I had. It wasn't that large or impressive but I felt the Spirit so strongly and I felt impressed to tell everyone.
We were sitting in class the other day and Hermano Snyder asked us "Have you ever seen someone that you can just tell that they have NO hope? That they're just competely abandoned all of it.. you can just see it in their eyes?" He told us about a time when he was on his mission in Mexico and they got out of church. They saw a group of men sitting on the curb, some pretty scary looking guys that "(they) normally wouldn't have just walked up and talked to them because they were pretty scary." But they felt impressed to and they started talking to them about repentance and all of the men with their cigarettes started saying how they really wanted to change their lives around and be better people. Then I basically got punched in the face by a scene in my head of Latin people in a busy city, so hopeless but searching for something, and I also thought about Kurt Vonnegut and how he was hopeless in a sense because he abandoned religion from the very beginning of this life. Then we kept talking about how bringing people to baptism is literally giving someone the gift of hope and how wonderful it was that we can offer that. And Hermano Snyder looked back at me and could tell I was crying and I felt super embarrassed but it was still such a cool experience.
The gospel can bless other humans lives more than we can even see or understand. Bringing people to baptism is what WE AS MISSIONARIES focus on because that's what we can be a part of and help them with. We can't actually help them pray, or read the El Libro de Mormon (the Book of Mormon) or feel the spirit but we can actually perform the ordinance of baptism with them. And the other awesome thing we talked about is how, if we give our best effooort in bringing people to Christ, God fill in the rest of the work because it is HIS work and it's an incredible and glorious opportunity for him to allow us to be a part of it.

WOAH! So the MTC is going really well. I have already sifted into the rough yet rewarding schedule. I can't even believe it's techincally the beginning of the third week for us. I'm a practically a third of the way through. So cool. The language is coming along well. Elder Waite had a cool experience like Wednesday of last week. We were teaching an investigator (not really, just a teacher playing an investigator) named Isabel and we were teaching the Book Of Mormon lesson and somehow, we put down our notes like 10 minutes into the lesson and were just talking to her for the last 30 minutes. After committing her to read some portions of 1 Nephi and 3rd Nephi, and she said she would, we closed and left the room. We went out and high-fived and realized that we didn't really know what we were saying but she understood everything and we answered all of her questions really well. Somehow it happened. God works in the coolest ways ever, and we hardly ever realize in the moment, that it  is Him stepping in and guiding us.

The food is OK at best. Let's just say it destroys your bowels and turns them into a blender. I'm not really gonna go into detail. OH but I don't drink any soda (No diet Coke here, sorry Tanner) and I prety much only have water or juice. I do push-ups and crunches every other morning and I play basketball and run on the track during gym. But sometimes basketball sucks because 90 percent of the elders here are incredible and they know it and they get mad when they lose and they get super competitve when they play real long games.

One day this past week, Elder Waite and I were doing some personal study and we were sitting on couches opposite each other. Elder Waite started laughing becuase he read in Jesus the Christ, something about "Bare neccessities" and then we remembered that while I was pretending to be an investigator, I said something about how my family was going to Sea World at the exact date when I was supposed to be baptized and it was stupid and we were exhausted from studying all day. So we busted up laughing for like 15 minutes and we were both crying because it was so hilarious and stupid. It felt so rad and theraputic to laugh that hard for so long though.

I have seen a few people from Timpview and from other places that I know. It's weird and awesome knowing that we're both here for the work. UNITED IN PURPOSE. Cool.

CHRIS! Write me when you get back from INHUT. PLEASE.
Hayley: It's memorial day so I won't get your letter til tomorrow and then I'll finish MY letter tomorrow. So you'll get one in a few days.
Emily: write me soooooon.
Bryn: I'M SENDING YOUR LETTER TOMORROW. Hope you're doing well.
FAMILY: make sure you send my camera. I NEED it. Also I'm sending a letter to you guys too.

I love you all so much for your support and emails and wonderful words of advice. I can't write any personal emails write now or til next week cause I'm out of time.
GOD lives. Jesucristo es mi Salvador y su Salvador. 

Elder Niels Christensen

May 21, 2012 (MTC post #1)

Okay. The MTC is really nothing like I expected. I am sitting in the
laundry room right now typing this up while mi companero (Elder Waite from
Idaho Falls) is sitting and trying to work on our lesson tonight for our
investigator, Isabel. When I first got here, I was like, "What the?"
because you have to teach a spanish speaking investigator on day 2 and we
knew literally NO spanish. But we just tried to jump into the lesson and
really tried to teach but it was super tough because she kept chiming in
with questions and of course we had almost no idea what she was saying, so
we basically just  prayed and bore our testimonies (the two things they
teach you on day 2) and hoped she felt the spirit. I think it went OK.
Seriously the MTC is nuts. You're on a super tight schedule and literally
everything revolves around studying and teaching investigators and personal
study time and learning the language.

My teacher's name is Hermano Snyder from Farmington... and he says he knew
cousin Amanda and/or Kayla. WEIRD and awesome. Anway, he's incredible and
he teaches with the spirit so well. He perfectly rides the line between
teaching the language with seriousness and humour. I love him and he said
he would want to read some of my poetry if I wrote any in here and if I
felt comfortable about it. He served in Mexico and seriously, I couldn't
ask for a more rad teacher.

My companion's name is Elder Waite from Idaho Falls. (TANNER: He's a
freaking raindrop) He's just a wonderful, quiet, shy and kind of awkward
person but I really like him and we work well together. I try to break him
out of his shell that he's always just hanging out in and he quiets me down
and lets me know when I'm making too many jokes. His spanish is better than
mine (as in he knows more and is better with grammar) but he talks like the
biggest freaking gringo ever. I love him though, and I'm really glad we're
companions because he always motivates me to be better at the language and
studying scriptures during personal study time and whatnot. He also reads
really fast.

The first three days here were super tough and I honestly just wanted to
run home and sleep for 15 years. But I KNEW I couldn't and that I was here
for a reason, and i NEEDED to be here. Spanish is the right language for me
and God knows that. I am only beginning to realize it. I'm so grateful for
the missionary program and everything that it has to offer. People need the
gospel in their lives and it's hard to see, especially being raised in the
gospel and always being around it. but it's so true.

I LOVE my branch president, President Ricks. He went to Spanish Speaking
Arizona, and he told us that Spanish speaking states missions are the BEST.
Which got me way stoked to get out and serve the Lord. He's the kind of guy
that ALWAYS says the right thing when I need it especially when I'm feeling
super stetched from all the studying and stressful Spanish learning. ALSO
Ray Morgan is the second counselor in my branch and I love seeing him. He
comes around on Sunday evenings and chats with us in our rooms and it's
wonderful to see a familiar face every once in a while.
I've already ran into several people I know like Laura Sudweeks, and a few
kids from Timpview. It's great to see them too.
Here's a list of the guys in our district:
Elder Chipman: joined army, one of the nicest people I've ever met
Elder Romrell: loves basketball, gets sucked into missionary parties in the
halls, and me and him get along really really well. His dad passed away a
few years ago and he's just so strong and sweet.
Elder Allen: Quieter, short stocky, harvests bees, a really dillgent hard
Elder Hardy: from Portland, pretentious, picks on Elder Waite, but really
smart and very spiritually strong
Elder Gibbons: Tall skinny ginger, experienced Spanish speaker, easy going,
kind of a nerd.
Elder Johnson: TOTAL BRO. but really nice and really giving and caring.
he's our district leader and he's always watching out for everyone. He's
tall, with broad shoulders, tan skin and blonde hair. Shaves with straight
blade razor and i really like him.
Elder Peterson: LOOKS EXACTLY LIKE BIILL MURRAY. Always playing with a
rubix cube.
Elder Braithwaite: Caring, good spanish speaker, hard worker and very good
with his lazy companion Peterson.

Also, you'd all be surprised with how many freaking ski=jump hair cuts
there are here. It blows my mind.

Bryn! I got your letter, I'll write you this week. Thanks so much for the
CS Lewis and musical quotes.
Hayley thanks for your wonderful letter. It made me so happy. I wrote you
back today.
Tanner: write me!