It feels like a lifetime since I last talked to you. Hope you didn't think I died :) Also, I'm typing on a weird keyboard so I'm sorry if I randomly miss letters haha
Sooo....how are you all doing? Mom, are you alive? ;) Riley looks adorable and I wish I was there!!
Okay, so, after I talked to you guys on Tuesday in the airport, I flew to Reno and then met up with my mission president and his wife, President and Sister Chestnut. They are so sweet and kind and were definitely something I needed at that moment. Then, we all took a bus to the stake center in Reno, where we spent the day being trained on various things and getting to know the mission presidency. I was surprised by how prepared they were for me and Elder Ramsden, since they only found out we were coming a few days earlier.
That night, we got to find out where we would be serving and who our trainers would be. When they called me up to the front, they announced that I would be serving in Elko, Nevada and my trainer would be Sister Hingano. I was surprised when no one stepped forward. That's when they told me that Elko is on the East Side of the mission, which means it's far enough away that we couldn't travel there tonight and I would be staying with the Sister Training Leaders for the night and meet my companion in the morning. So, I packed some of my things and spent the night with Sister Stevenson and Sister Lawson. Then early the next morning, we packed up a trailer, and myself and 10 elders took the "Transfer Van" across the desert of Nevada for four and a half hours to get to the east side. When we finally got to Elko, I met Sister Hingano and we got right to work! Sister Hingano is Tongan and she's super chill and nice. I was a little intimidated by her at first, but she's great and we've been getting along really well. We are the missionaries for the Elko 2nd Ward and for the YSA branch! It has been interesting and really fun to be missionaries for a YSA group.
The Place: Elko is...very different from anywhere I've ever been before. It's primarily desert and the landscape is very brown and dry. It's super hot here and dust flies around everywhere. The Ruby Mountains can usually be seen in the distance, but the air is thick with smoke right now because of the California fires. There are casinos everywhere!! Like every block. There is a river in our area, but I haven't really gotten to see it yet. I'm sure I will grow to love this place.
The People: The people here in Elko are very different than I am used to but I love them already. They are some of the most humble people I've ever met and I have heard some of the most humble prayers I've ever heard since being here. Almost everyone works in the gold mines that surround this area, so they are always very tired and have very interesting schedules (a common one is 7 days on, 7 days off, which makes it hard to keep in contact with people). A lot of people have lived here their whole lives but are hoping to get out once they save enough money. They are hard-working people. There are a lot of addictions and despair, which breaks my heart. But almost everyone we talk to believes in God and prays for relief from their poverty or sadness. Almost everyone has a dog and almost everyone smokes, which has been an adjustment for me haha but I have been very brave with the dogs :) I can feel God's love for the people of Elko Nevada and I'm excited to bring them the joyful message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The Work: The work is moving along very well here!! Many people are interested in the Gospel, they just have a hard time committing to live certain laws and come to church (because of their work schedules). Sister Hingano and I are always very busy! We have tons of appointments every day and we currently have 4 investigators who should be getting baptized within a few weeks. There are a TON of less actives so we spend a lot of time visiting them. I think we probably talk to more less actives and recent converts than investigators.
The Ward (and Branch): Covering two units has been interesting. Yesterday, we went to 3 different sacrament meetings! (Elko 2nd, YSA, and Late-Night for the miners). We went to two ward councils and met with two bishops and ward mission leaders. Lots to remember! The Elko 2nd ward area is not too big, but because we are over YSA, we can teach any YSA's in the whole area!! So sometimes we drive pretty far to find and teach them. The ward is super nice and there a ton of members who are willing to feed us and to go out teaching with us. The YSA branch has a bunch of RM's who miss their missions and like to come teaching with us. It's great to have such strong support from the members. I know for a fact that the missionary success in any area directly correlates to the involvement and spirit of the members. The members are soooo important!!! Remember that :)
Driving...usually the senior companion drives the car, but Sister Hingano doesn't have a license, so I drive everywhere! Pretty crazy, huh? Definitely not what I was expecting. I'm terrible at parking. Terrible. We have a box in our car that yells at me if I speed or hit a bump too hard. It's scary. But it keeps the missionaries safe and law-abiding so we love it!! :)
I've already learned so much from being here. I know that the Gospel is true and that God loves every individual on this earth, regardless of their situation in life. The Gospel message is one of joy!! How could we not share something so great with everyone we know?!
I love you guys so very much and I hope I have remained positive in this email. Missionary work is super hard. But it's super worth it as well.
Take care of yourselves and don't forget your prayers!!
All my love,