Monday, July 1, 2013

Week Seven - In Grand Prairie, Bike Fiasco and a Giant Shower Cap!

Well, it's only week seven and David has yet to disappoint in the e-mail department!  This is his first e-mail(s) from Dallas and I literally laughed all day about some of the things he told us.  His first e-mail came around 10:30am on Monday morning, which surprised me.  It ended very abruptly, though and so I hurried and e-mailed him back asking for his address.  Then, around 12:30pm, we got another e-mail - the rest of the first one he started.  He sounds overwhelmed, but at the same time, like he is mostly taking it in stride.  He is happy with his companion, the area and the people, so far.  His bike experiences are hilarious and I am just thankful he had his first mis-hap not too far from the bike store....and that they were able to finish putting his bike together correctly for him!  He's a funny kid and it really comes out in his e-mails!

David and Landon Watkins at the Provo Temple.  

This is where David is now - Grand Prairie, Texas, just a little south west of Dallas.

Hey Fam! 
Holy tolito where do I even begin?   My flight was fine, I wrote you a letter the day I got here that should come soon with the picture of me and President Durrant.  My first day was very exciting!  We spent most of the day in that church that you see all the pics of on the Dallas Mission fb page.  We had a little bit of training, got to know President and his wife, and they got to know us a little bit.  President Durrant is awesome.  He is ginormo, but a real softy.  He is funny, he makes up songs, makes us laugh, and knows how to have a good time.  He is also very spiritual and has a funny way with words.  He only has a year left of being a president, and I don't know how often I'll see him or how much of a relationship I will form with him, but I really hope we can form a good one.  Very few missionaries got their companions Monday night and left to their apartments.  So we had about 30 missionaries stay in one apartment that night.  It was a small, low class apartment haha.  I slept on the hardwood floor with a giant shower cap for a blanket.  It made me think:  "wow, THIS IS THE LIFE OF A MISSIONARY!"  So I didn't get much sleep that night.  The next day we had a little bit more training at the church and we got our companions.  He called up all the male Spanish speaking newbies, and all the male Spanish speaking trainers.  And he said "stand next to your companion".  So we had to guess or "feel inspired".  Very few guessed right, but my companion guessed me on the first try! 
My companion is Elder Sheffer.  He is 18 and from Phoenix Arizona.  what a coinkadink!  He graduated from high school when he was 16.  He only has two more transfers than me.  He is the youngest trainer in the mission which I think says a lot about him.  He is a very good missionary.  Almost two good, but if I could be where he is at within the next three months I would be golden!  He knows Spanish quite well.  He understands it all, can speak well enough to carry a conversation, he makes people laugh, he makes jokes, and that just seems impossible for me to ever do!  But he works hard, never have we taken a break, even when we have nothing to do.  He kicks my butt on the bikes.  I can't keep up!  He knows his stuff, that's for sure. 
So it turns out that my companions companion before me was a total boss.  He is the best American Spanish speaker in the mission.  Everybody loved him.. Every time my Elder Sheffer introduces me, they get really sad and ask where Elder Talbot is.  He was super charismatic  gave toys to the kids, made everybody laugh, and he was handsome.  People literally were in love with him.  One lady got baptized just so she could have a chance with him.  Multiple others told him that they want him to marry there daughter.  He turned this place around from being the least productive area in the mission to the most productive area in the mission.  The average number of baptisms in the Dallas mission is 8 for the entire 2 years.  In the last two transfers, Elder Sheffer and Talbot had 8.    I have some big shoes to fill.
This week I have mostly just been a shadow in lessons.  Most of our lessons are in Spanish, but we have had a few in English, even though they are with Spanish speakers but just prefer English.  ??  I can kill it in English!  I'm pretty good!  but in Spanish I am totally lost.  I can say a few parts of lessons, but I can't understand their questions or comments.  I can start a contact in Spanish, but as soon as they say something I just look at my companion, which his cue to take over, bc I don't understand!  I was okay with being a shadow for the first couple days, now its starting to get frustrating.
We live in an apartment, just the two of us.  My first day of actually being out proselyting was rough.  We assemble the Liahona, and then walked to the bike shop to pick up his bike.  It was a long hot walk.  We picked his bike up, and no more than 30 seconds of being on my bike, I hit a curb and the wheel breaks.  Green slime everywhere!  I had no idea they put slime in tires!  I should have taken a picture, but my mind was elsewhere.  So we had to go back to the bike shop, which was embarrassing, and they fixed the tire.  They don't believe in slime tires in Texas bc it's too hot and they break often.  Turns out that we didn't put the Liahonna together correctly at all.  We did it without instructions haha I lost them pretty much immediately.  I didn't even have breaks!  So they obviously pointed that out, fixed everything I did wrong, which was everything, and then we got on our way.  Can you say ROUGH START?!

Hey, sorry.  We are at the library and we only have 45 min at a time.  So now I am on my second session! 
I forgot to tell lyou, I am in Grand Prairie, Texas!  No clue where that is, look it up! 
We are on bikes.  My legs are terribly sore.  My bum is killing me.  It feels like we are always riding into the wind.  I can't keep up with my companion, and by the end of the day I am absolutely drenched.  I'll get used to it though!  I have already had a crash haha I clipped a mailbox, knocked it over.  But we got a good contact out of it.  The owner of the house was in the front yard when it happened, a big black man.  He tried to get us to play pool with him but that is not allowed.  We talked for a bit, he gave us a hard time and kind of just wanted to argue with us in a light manner, but he told me that he wants me specifically to come back.  Normally, if they don't speak Spanish, we have to give them to the English missionaries.  But he doesn't want to talk to any other missionary but me.  And I believe that I clipped that mailbox for a reason. 
Elder Talbot left tons of food.  For lunches and breakfast I have been living off of trail mix and granola bars all week.  He left a bag of ghirradelli choc chips that are muy delicioso!  We eat dinner with members.  The food is good!  but I just have a hard time trusting it, if you know what I mean.  But it is almost always good.  No bomb bbq yet. 
There are kids everywhere here.  I really like them.  they like us and always come talk to us.  I get my Spanish corrected by 6 year olds.  which is humbling.  The people here for the most part are really nice.  I find it difficult to love them simply because I can't connect with them when I can't speak Spanish.  But I do see how these people could be loveable.  It is not difficult to find Spanish speakers, but a lot of them will speak English to us even when we talk to them in Spanish, which probably slows down my learning rate.  I feel like I don't speak enough Spanish here and it is going to take a while to learn! 
wow.  I'm a missionary.  We have had people swear at us, make fun of us, throw a cup at us.  We have been viciously rejected by that old southern Baptist lady.  I'm tired all the time.  THIS IS THE LIFE OF A MISSIONARY! 
I feel like I had so much more to tell you, but that is all I can think of for now.  I have lots of pictures to send, mostly from the mtc, but I don't have the stuff necessary to send them right now.  I left it at the apartment.  So you are going to have to wait another week. 
idk what I want to do about shoes.  The only place I have seen around here for shoes is payless, and I might get just a cheap pair to wear in the rain.  But for now I am probably good with the ones I have.   However there are a couple things I would like.  I could use some old hand towels, maybe cut in half.  It would be nice if I had some towels to wipe the sweat off my face.  Just some old ratty ones if you have any, or if you have a better idea, I'll trust you with it.  I also need a Spanish scripture case.  hopefully you could find one of those at deseret.  Spanish scriptures are longer so they need a bigger case. 
My testimony has already been strengthened in many ways.   The Lord is preparing his people to hear our message.  Sometimes it is so much easier than I ever would have thought!  Prayer works.  When we aren't having success, we pray.  When we pray, things turn around.  When I get overwhelmed or anxious, I pray.  When I pray I can overcome those feelings.   Hard work pays off.  Often times we will take a risk by making a long bike ride to someones house when we don't even know if they will be there.  and usually they aren't there.  But the Lord always makes those trips worth it through someone else.   Satan is real and doing all he can to keep people from hearing our message.  Whenever we share the first vision, say a prayer, or finally get someone else to pray; whenever we reach the peak of spirituality in our lesson, nearly ever time, a phone goes off.  someone comes in the door with groceries.  The kids come running in and scream and cry.  We are constantly getting interrupted at the worst times.  We are, however, having success and getting lessons in. 
Mom, remember what Dr. Pulver told me about missions the last time we went in to see him?  He wasn't kidding.  It is very early on but this is far more than i ever expected.  But there is a scripture in D&C that I really like.  It keeps me going and makes me want to hang in there.   D&C 58: 4.  
I miss you all and I am wondering what I have got myself into.   I saw a dog bow just like Toby does the other day!  I also saw some pups the other day for sale.  Gosh I miss that dude!  But you people more.  Sounds like all is well and todo bien con migo! 
3001 S Carrier Parkway apartment #2403 Grand Prairie, Tx 75052

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