Well, I'll try to get through all of this; although, I probably won't have time today to reply to individual emails. I'm sorry. It looks like you are having a great trip.
Ok, so back at the MTC. The first thing: it was very hard to say goodbye to my district. I have grown to love them, spending that much time with them, and it was even hard to say bye to the ones who were disobedient (except the one that hates me. He wouldn't say bye to me-haha). But anyways, it was tough. I spent the night in Elder Condie's room with Elder Ward, also going to Ogden. He is 21, graduated last year, converted two years ago, on a mission without the support of his parents, and is here to work- in Spanish as well.
We left at about 6 am for the two hour bus ride. We got there Tuesday, spent all day in the office, spent the night in the mission home (31 of us-probably because they are packing Utah missions tight right now), and then met our trainers the next morning. We tracted with the assistants in 104 degree weather, and it was great. Elder Ward and I went together and spoke to a crazy guy who prayed with us to cast out spirits and was inactive. He referred us to a friend of his. We went and saw the friend who turned out to be a member trying to get the crazy guy back to church-haha. This was all in the course of an hour on the first day.
There are four assistants. One has a really cool South African accent. They seemed really great. Also, last year our mission had 2000 baptisms just so you know, so that's pretty cool. The best part about the first day was homemade food. Even the bread on the sandwiches was homemade. It was just a good change from the MTC. There are about 60 cars in the mission with only 150 missionaries. All spanish areas are on bikes right now, but that could change. Also you aren't allowed to use cars on pday, which is weird since that's the day we have to pick things up and carry them home, but it's ok. I bought a bike. It was $200 from Walmart, and it should work. The only other one I could find that I wanted was an $800 disk break fixed gear from a cycle shop, but obviously that would've been crazy to buy that, so I got a bike with street tires. That should be fine; although I couldn't find a fixed gear like I wanted.
So the one weird thing, they always say 'you guys' here. In the MTC, it was really bad to say that and you had to say 'you elders', but we got here and everyone even in the office says 'you guys' so that was a change that I didn't even think would be weird. I started saying y'all a lot without even meaning to, because it's not 'you guys,' so now I have that habit. The assistants showed us this spoof video-the district three-which was made about a year ago, and it is pretty funny. It talks about the role of accents in conversion, and the people with accents should use them to baptize. It had a bunch of other stuff, but that was the funny part.
Our interviews were only like three minutes each, so I didn't say much to the mission president (he had 30 to interview that day so I understood why), but at least he heard my testimony in the testimony meeting at his house that night. That's the important part.
My companion: they announced one at a time with lots of clapping and yelling (in the chapel which was weird), and I was the last one to be announced. My companion is Elder Isla. He was born in Chile, moved to Mexico, then grew up in American Fork. He speaks fluent, fast Spanish and English, so he is harder to understand than others, but it's good practice. He is pretty quiet and has been out like a year and half. He knows our area really well; it's big. We drive a Chrysler 200. We live in an apartment with our district leader who is also training another new missionary.
We got to the apartment, and honest, I was angry. It was the most disgusting place I had ever seen. The first three hours I spent in the mission field were cleaning, and it wasn't Wednesday (preparation day), but that's what we had to do. After the three hours, we weren't even close to being done, but we needed to work. It was nasty; there was mold on the shower floors; the fridge hadn't been cleaned in months; there were half eaten pieces of toast on the ground and used q-tips all over my desk. I think the couch had never been lifted up; there was nowhere for me to unpack because of how much stuff there was. When I was cleaning, I had nine, full, kitchen-size trash bags full of garbage. Like I said, at this point we weren't even halfway done with cleaning it, but it just never got cleaned. My district leader and companion said that's just the way it is, and it'll be fine. I could tell the other new missionary was discouraged, and I talked to him and said things were going to change. I talked to my companion about keeping it clean, and he said there's no point, because it will get messy again. I basically said, "Well you have never lived with me before. This place won't ever look like this again." I wasn't very happy at that point, but we went out to work.
We ended up spending most of our time that day at a member's house, not teaching, just hanging out really. The next day was pretty similar. During weekly planning, we had inventory, because we hadn't been getting along that well, because he isn't a big fan of keeping a lot of the rules. He said that he thinks I am dragging him to keep his standards, and he doesn't want to, because that's not how he is keeping all the rules. He said he had never seen a perfect missionary so there is no point in trying and eventually I would start breaking the rules. I basically just said I am here to work, and I don't care what others do, but I wouldn't lower my standards to be his companion, and we weren't going to spend anymore time at members' houses, and it was time to go to work. He said he wanted me to be more patient with him, and I agreed. He said he would help me out more rather than leaving things to me. I am happy to say that since then things have improved. WE have started working, he got the message! The area book hadn't been updated in a few weeks/months, and he wasn't really confident on how to use it. So I have been studying chapter eight, and I kind of taught myself certain parts. We have been looking for people that were investigators in the past mainly, but we are running out of those people. It'll be lots of tracting this week. I think other areas usually teach a little bit more, but we only have two investigators, so we need to spend a lot of time finding. This area has been struggling the last little while, but as I have studied the scriptures, I have kept being reminded that as long as we do all we can, the Lord will do the rest. Nephi asked for ore to make tools, not for the tools. The Liahona workecd with faith, heed, and diligence-so that's what we are going to do. We are going to study hard, work hard all day, and the Lord will take care of the rest. Elder Isla said that doesn't work, because contacting people door to door is ineffective. I said I wanted to try it, so even though he doesn't want to, we will. I have talked to a couple other spanish missionaries in our zone and they said door contacting has been effective for them, so we will try it.
So anyways in this mission, missionaries go to gold's gym for free. We get up at six every morning, and our whole zone goes. I kind of feel like it's not a good environment for the missionaries with the music, movies, and girls not dressed appropriately for missionaries, but even the assistants go. Especially since afterwards a lot of the missionaries talk about the ufc fight they watched while working out or the girls they saw which makes me angry. I just try to stay away from them when they say that. I still kind of feel weird. I talked to Elder Isla about it, and he wasn't happy, so we have still been going, but I think I just need to learn to focus and not be distracted when we are there-like by the music mostly. The rule on music here is that as long as you and your companion agree it goes with the white handbook, then its ok. Well, most people interpret that pretty loosely and walk around the gym with headphones listening to just whatever. Anyways, I decided I won't listen to really anything but motab, which luckily Elder Isla is ok with, because he listens to Jesus the Christ recording while we drive.
The Spanish has been tough. I speak more than I understand for sure. The first day I understood nothing, and now I understand sixty percent. I am really praying for the gift of tongues, which I have already seen help me in only a week. The missionaries in our apartment call me vinny because they think I look like Vin Diesel which I don't, but whatever it doesn't bother me. The district leader doesn't really want to be obedient, but his companion does. I feel bad that he isn't getting trained that well, but I am glad that I know better about following rules like doing things for p-day during the week or skipping study and stuff like that. I think the other new missionary is figuring things out fine, so that's good. I have been tyring to encourage him as much as I can when we are at home. His companion is driving him a little crazy, I think.
Oh and this cool thing; the district leader has as broken ankle, so he has these electrical pads that you put on your muscle. It sends electric signals through it and forces your muscle to flex (same idea as the '123 clear!" thing the doctors use and tazers) anyways so that is pretty cool. I have played with that a little bit. It forces your arm to flex really hard. We probably shouldn't play with it since it's for physical therapy, but for some reason it's the funniest thing in the world.
Also Dad, the future investigators sheet, how often should they be updated? Preach my gospel isn't very clear and my zone leaders weren't sure either. Is it something I do at the end of the transfer or every week? On Sunday, we saw a fireside by Elder Ballard. It was funny-he said there are so many beautiful girls here it's hard to keep my mind on my work. It was at weber state in the events center and there was a fireworks show after (finsihed at 10 o clock). I was happy because Elder Isla didn't want to go even though other missionaries were, so we went and worked during it instead.
My first Sunday was good, I very briefly met the bishop, couldn't understand a ton, but I introduced myself over the pulpit and said I wanted to serve them and work as hard as I can to help them. People tell me I have a good accent which is good, but I don't really know what that means. I think I just sound bad. I taught the restoration for the first time last night with the zone leaders. We went on splits to switch investigators to another area. I taught with a zone leader and the guy wasn't that interested, but we taught it nonetheless. This week we have four first lessons from finding people last week which I am excited about adding to the amount of investigators they have. I feel like every member here is inactive.
We live in a pretty run-down part of Ogden. There are people of Ogden who are normal and ogdenites, the people that push shopping carts around and had beards to their stomachs and weird stuff like that and there are a LOT of those people. One thing I have been trying to get us to stop doing is something they call poaching which just means teaching people out of your area. Elder Isla said people have done it to him so he wants to basically get revenge, but I told him we need to focus on our area, and it doesn't matter what others do. I think he understands that, and we are going to stop. The things we have always heard about members paying for your dinner and groceries is more in Bountiful. Here things like that don't happen so much, but we get a dinner appointment six days a week so that's good. I'm grateful to the members for that. I mostly just ate sandwhiches for lunch. I asked the district leader about cooking; he has lived there for three months and didn't even know if they had pots and pans. I found some even though I probably won't cook much.
There is one guy we contaced who has the cutest kids ever, but I am not sure what to do. He speaks Spanish and English, but his kids mostly English, so once we start teaching him tomorrow, it might be in English. I think that means we should switch him to the Englsih elders which won't make Elder Isla happy, but if they are going to an English ward, then I don't think we should teach him. We are trying to get more organized, because in the past, I think lots of appointments have been missed. But we have been planning every night and trying to set more meaninful goals and not just put the same numbers every night because so far we have never made our goals, so obviously they need to be adjusted. Yesterday Elder Isla carreid a planner, so I think he might start using it during the day which is good, because I don't always understand things, and I miss them and don't write them down.
I have learned to absolutely love study time in the morning. Personal study is so great and peaceful, and I learn so much. It's my favorite part of the day. Anyways, this letter I realize sounds pessimistic and has lots of complaining. I'm sorry it ended up like that. I am happy, because I am working as hard as I can with all I know how to do. I have really learned as long as I do that I have no need to fear because that's all I can do, and the Lord will help me. I think this area will start to improve as we work harder. It's just been eye opening to me that not every missionary is an Elder Endemano, Elder Mackie, Elder Johnson, Elder ..... but I want to be like them. I have been sooo, so grateful this week for their examples of hard work and obedience, and I want to become like them even though it will take lots of work. The advice always helps, especially from you, Tyson. I will try to remember everything you told me. Like I said, I am working hard and being obedient, so the Lord is keeping me happy.
Oh and our investigators. Mother and daughter, they think they need more time to be baptized but they don't. We should have them commited this week to a baptism soon, so that is fantastic. Dinner appointments are awesome. I absolutely LOVE mexican food, and we eat a lot of it. So anyways pray for me, my companion, and especially the people here to be ready for the missionaries, and that we can find them!
I love you all,
PS One other testimony booster. The letters that the elders in my district from the MTC wrote me were great. Six of them said that they learned about how important it is to keep the rules from me. One of them said he really didn't like me until the day he decided to be obedient, because he saw Elder Wilkey and I were happy being obedient. I'm not saying that in a boastful way, it was just the Lords' way of encouraging me to be obedient, so it made me happy to know I am doing something right. Love you
One more thing, I just want to remind you I am happy. I am glad to be out here. I don't want my email to make you think I am unhappy as a missionary or discouraged, because I am not. I knew it would be work, and it is. Next week's letter will be more positive. All mail will go to the mission office, they forward everything to the aparments so for my whole mission send it there. I will send pictures next week. I love you all. Also, I get to drive! Elder Isla's license expired so I am the driver (the only new missionary driver). It is pretty sweet. I was happy. Anyways, bye.