Tuesday, August 21, 2012

First week in Hyrum, 5 weeks in the field

The Logan Utah Temple
Ok, so this was my week first week in Hyrum.. Lots of stuff in this email, so this will be random and unorganized.

The Hyrum house is huge: two story house, four bedroom, three bathroom. I'll send pictures next week. It has not been taken care of at all, really. Things are just really unorganized. I was doing dishes and asked where the plates go, and they said anywhere. You open the cupboards and plates from about a hundred different members that haven’t been returned are everywhere, and nothing is really organized.

Elder Woodward (new from MTC), Elder Isla, Elder Saldaña, & I
Ok so, I'll tell you about Hyrum. Right before I left, Elder Isla said, “Hold strong. Hyrum is known as apostate land, because nobody works at all, and it’s easy to be lazy.” That was encouraging. He is definitely right, though. Right off the bat in the car, I told my new companion I didn't want to listen to music that wasn't "churchy," and he was not happy. It took a while, but eventually he agreed. He keeps trying to push it, but I am not giving in. He is a worker though. He told me right off the bat that he wants to work. His last companion was lazy and just flirted with girls, so he wants to change and work. I am happy with that; we work very hard. He doesn't like some of the small rules and is very against changing at all. But we do work. There are a couple things like at lunch instead of eating he will take a nap, so I can't do anything about that, but he has a good attitude about helping the other missionaries. The two others we live with sleep in everyday and hang out all day pretty much, and we are trying to encourage them by going tracting with them, inviting them to study with us, things like that. Rather than be frustrated and judge them, he tries to help them which is a good example for me. Oh, and we work out at the high school gym: none of the tv's, music, or anybody else there like the other area. The janitors let us in, so that is pretty nice.

Transfer day was a little stressful. I accidentally left the car keys for Ogden in my pocket. Elder Isla had to use the extra one, and we mailed the others down. I felt pretty dumb and called the vehicle coordinator and apologized. It is about an hour drive up to our area.

Elder Saldaña: well he works hard, born in San Diego, grew up in Mexico, his dad does tile, and his grandpa did classified things for the government which is the source of all their millions of dollars, but he doesn’t know where the money came from just that it was due to his grandpa working with the government. He has like 14 bank accounts, and his money is always moving so people can't see it.. Kind of sketchy, but anyways he is a cool guy. He doesn't exactly speak like a missionary, but he learned English in Mexico so that’s probably why. He is really big on starting study right on time, which I like, but it turns out that was just the first two days, because he kind of stopped after a couple days. Studying has been a struggle with him. He doesn't ask me for feedback and just talks the whole time, and he doesn’t have a Preach My Gospel, because he says you don't need it. He didn’t want to do the twelve-week program (a training program for new missionaries), but I kind of made him. He just talks about it the whole time in kind of a condescending way, so I am trying my best.

The obedience thing came up the most with accepting money. A guy tried to hand me money, and I said, “No, that's ok,” and that was it. Afterwards, Elder Saldaña got really mad and said that I'm a dumb greeny, and I read the white handbook, so I think I know everything. He kind of has the very common attitude here that you are obedient at the beginning until you decide to start breaking rules. He is convinced that will happen to everyone including me. He told me I took that guy’s blessings away, and it doesn't matter what the white handbook says, because it’s not important, because we can use our brain. I am really trying to figure out how to set an example, because at one point he said the same thing Elder Isla said in the beginning: that I am pushing him to do what I want, and I want to learn to do it in a more loving way. He thinks I am prideful though, because I want to be obedient, and I need to be more humble and follow his counsel since he is the senior companion. He talks about me being too prideful a lot actually and tells me about how I need to be humble like him, because he gave up music, and that's true humility. He really likes talking about how much better he his than other missionaries and has literally almost gotten in a fist fight with about five other missionaries. He picks fights a lot in person and over text with others including once when I was here. It bugs me, because he talks about how he can beat them up and go to jail, but it doesn’t matter because he has connections and can get out easily. I am talking like he is really bad, but he isn't at all. He just thinks he is already more obedient than anyone else in the mission and doesn't need to improve, because he is the best. Anyways…

So my area is about 40 miles across. It is huge, and there aren't a lot of Hispanics, and the members really don't like us. We went to ward council for our branch (the missionaries had never been before, because they didn't want to wake up for it), and they really just talked a lot about how the missionaries are bad. They discussed finding us a new house to live in. The missionaries in the past got in trouble, because they were throwing knives at the walls and just not cleaning it. When the owner of the house asked them to clean it, one missionary said, “That's not my job. You can clean it.” So, I can't blame the members for not liking us. But anyways, they were talking and one guy yelled out, “Yeah, missionaries are the worst!” They all said, “Yeah, they destroy everything,” and we were sitting right there! Then our ward mission leader raised his hand and said, “I have several apartments, but I won't let them stay there even if they pay me.” Well anyways we just said sorry for the missionaries in the past, and we were going to work and try to be better and do our best. So the housing situation doesn't look good. We are getting kicked out soon. Oh, another thing about the house, we are in the guest house of the people that own our house. They own the local meat company, so animal rights people have them on a hit list and are trying to kill them. That means that the police are constantly watching our house and theirs, too. In the past, the elders have said weird cars will come in and watch the house. One car even followed them around a few miles. They called the zone leaders rather than the police though, and then the guy drove away. So that's kind of weird.

Anyways, Hyrum is very country. I have never seen so many bolo ties. All the guys have beards and are country except the Hispanics of course. One day, we were driving and three horses had gotten out and were running in the road. We called the police and had them come get them. It was just funny. I guess this isn't too uncommon here: for horses to get out and be walking around in the bank parking lot.

The obedience thing is tough, because of all the other missionaries that are so much worse. I guess two mission presidents ago, the missionaries were allowed to watch Disney movies. So I am glad I am here with President Hiers. The area book isn't used.  When I try and do it, I get rejected, and then I am told I need to listen to my senior companion and do what he says. I get that one a lot. Ha-ha. But I am working on getting it back up there. I did it in the last area, I can do it here, too.

I almost got bit by a pitbull. He was chained up, and I thought he would be nice. He was sitting by the door, so I walked up while he was barking, then I got close and he crouched down and jumped at me. I took like three steps back, then he tried to bite me. I put my scriptures in front of me, so he bit those instead. Then he reached the end of his chain, and I got away. Elder Saldaña was laughing the whole time I'll be honest; it was pretty funny. So we aren't going back to that house, I guess because the dog is always there, and he doesn’t like us, I guess.

Oh and Dad, tell Julie I will miss her; I got the worst hair cut of my life. I guess that’s what you get for getting a free haricut, but oh well.

So I read Elder Holland’s talk about us being mad when others get credit or just as much reward when we worked for longer. I realized that applies to me and cleaning. I get mad when I am the only one cleaning, mostly because the owners will think we all did it, and I want the credit when I am the only one who cleans, but that is selfish.  I should do it just to help and be charitable, not for credit. So I set a goal of 20 minutes every night. It isn't much, but it will definitely help at least until we get out.

Elder Saldaña’s eating habits are similar to Elder Isla; he has cake and cookies for lunch, or we go to McDonald’s. He doesn’t like eating at home, so we are going out to eat everyday. He won't let me stay home for more than five minutes, before we leave so there is no point in sending more stuff for cooking, Mom. I just make sandwiches since they are the fastest.

He doesn't do language study, and so he wants me to cancel it a lot which is hard, because I really need it and want it.  I have held strong so far.  I think I am learning a lot about why perseverance, persistence and courage are important qualities to develop: it will take courage to stand up to companions the next couple years and a TON of perseverance ad persistence to keep doing it and not give up and be disobedient like my companion tells me everyday that I will be eventually. 

I want some advice with something Elder Saldaña and also Elder Wilkey said: they said that I move too fast; that I do things just to do them and need to enjoy life more. They both have said that, and I have always had a the grass is greener on the other side, and I want to overcome that. How can I learn to just be happy with my current situation and not just wish for another companion..or just want to be done serving with him? Help would be appreciated Mom and Dad...also Tyson. Write me a letter and tell me how you handled dealing with companions and setting an example rather than forcing. It’s a skill I am trying to do but need to work on. I tried telling him we will receive more blessings and have the Spirit stronger, and he just said he is fine, since he already has the Spirit. So, give me some advice. I can imagine that was a talent of yours. You are a lot nicer than me and would definitely do a better job with it. I realized I have been studying selfishly. I study for myself and not for others a lot, and I need to change that. So rather than finding out about how to help myself in the scriptures, I can learn how to help others and that should really help me in the end overall.

Oh and I love planners. Having everything scheduled out fits my personality so much. It’s so convenient to have everything written down. I am already dreading not having a planner when I get home.

We went to English correlation as well. They don’t trust us either, since the last Spanish missionaries mainly just flirted with their daughters/young women. But Elder Saldaña has been here for only five weeks, so we are both new, and he is VERY against flirting or acting inappropriately with girls at all which is really good, because most people here treat us like we are at home. It is normal for some missionaries to have a crush on a girl you are serving near and to text her and flirt with her. It’s so weird the type of attitude missionaries have here. I really don't like it. Where are all the Elder Endemano's or Elder Mackie's?! I know there must be obedient, good missionaries here, but the only ones I know of that fit that description are the brand new ones...and Elder Isla. I really miss him; he is the best. I took for granted how humble he is and how much he wants to improve and get better and always teaches me by example. 

If you are obedient here, you get a reputation here as being a jerk. Elder Saldaña is only five months out, and people already don't like him, because he is so much more obedient than others. When people found out I would be his companion, two people, including my old district leader, came up and told him what a jerk I was and all I care about is the rules and I'm no fun. I guess there could be truth to that, but it bugged me that I already have that reputation. I think I am too serious and need to relax a little bit...Last week, still in Ogden, we were playing a game with the youth at cookie night. The game was where you said something weird and had to do it without laughing or something like that.  You know how competitive I am. I kept winning, and the youth said, “That’s not fair. He never smiles or laughs or is even happy!” I was kind of surprised by that. I thought I was just good at the game. So maybe I need to smile more or something and be like Elder Mackie.

Anyways, we are having success. We had a very good lesson last week. There are lots of potentials and new people since work wasn't done here in the past. We are working hard and trying to be obedient. Any advice helps, Mom and Dad.
Love you!

Elder Bassett

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