Sunday, August 31, 2014

Week Sixty Six - Getting to Know Garland and Back on the Liahona!

Hay caramba what a week!  It was like the first week of my mission all over again!  Bike, butt hurts, it's blazing hot outside, completely lost in the area, and I don't know anyone!  The stress of everything didn't entirely hit me until we got dropped off at an empty apartment that didn't even have beds! (but the apartment is very big and nice for a missionary apartment)  For the first couple of days, I had never been so stressed in my life.  I could have just sat in the apartment wondering where to start and letting that stress eat at me for weeks!  But once we got my companion a bike, I hit the pavement with the good ol' Liahona, Elder Alkonis right behind me, and we just started talking to people.  That always makes me feel better; sharing the gospel is the solution to everything on a mission!  Every time I get on that bike, the stress almost immediately goes away.  Although going from a car to a bike is probably the biggest demotion ever, it is a beautiful thing.  I wouldn't say I'm happy about it, but it isn't as bad as one would think.  There is just a feeling of satisfaction as a missionary on a bike that you don't get in a car. 
 So yeah, my companion is Elder Alkonis from LA, California.  He is one of the nicest kids ever, but I don't know if we have a single thing in common.  But he is a trooper and keeping up, so I can't complain. 
 I had my first district meeting on Wednesday.  I did not like it one bit, but it went fine.  There are a couple of familiar faces in the district though:  Elder Crockett, who is covering the other side of the branch that I am serving in, and it is a strange feeling to be working with him again!  Then there is Elder Adams, my bff from the MTC, who is the Zone Leader here.  Him and his companion are great and have been a big help to us this past week.  So in all, there are four companionships in the district: Elder Crockett and his companion, Elder Adams and his companion, two sisters, and us! 
 Garland is quite different than McKinney.  It didn't take long for me to realize how great I had it in McKinney. I was very comfortable there, however Garland is a lot more Mexican and densely populated and there is just a lot more to do here.  It is somewhat of a ghetto area, with apartments on top of apartments on top of apartments!  I could probably stay here for the rest of my mission and never run out of places to knock.  It is a good place to train a new missionary.  Elder Alkonis is getting all kinds of great experience everyday.  Oh and the members are great here and I am probably going to fall in love with them all.

-Elder Powell is not in my zone.  Not sure how close we are to him, but I doubt I will see him much.
-12365 S. Plano Rd. #2204
     Dallas, TX 75243
-In the package you send me, if possible, I would like you to send a few pairs of compression shorts, and a clicker counter thingy majig, you know, like the one Curtis Christensen used to use when he counted the number of people in sacrament meeting?  Hopefully you know what I'm talking about.  I have no idea where you would even find one of those, but I figured if anybody would no, it would be my mother!  Or at least you could find out.  Love you!
So my week was quite frustrating and stressful and overwhelming, but we survived, things are only going to get easier, and we are doing the Lord's work, so all is well!
I am happy and you need not worry about me.  Know that I love and miss everybody, and tell TommyBoy that I'm proud of him!
Elder Williams  

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Week Sixty Five - Headed to Garland and District Leader!

Tatiana's baptism!

The Holms, best cooks in McKinney!

Elder Packham, David and the Arreola family!

David and his best buddy, Raul!

Bugs in Princeton!

The gang!

David and Brother Cragg Rogers!

Hello Family and Friends;
   Another good and busy and exhausting week we had here in McKinney.  For the last five weeks we have been teaching around 30 lessons a week, which is something I could really get used to.  We had another good turn out at the soccer night, and I got to play this week!  All three of us elders are pretty bad at soccer, but we make the Hispanics laugh with our failed attempts to have fancy footwork, so all is well!  We taught Jason and Wendy twice this week and it went well.  They are reading the Book of Mormon!  Jason has no faith and is unsure if God even exists,  but he has a sincere desire to know and find faith, which is enough to get him going!  They flaked on church yesterday due to a power outage from a big thunder storm, but they are very respectful and communicate well through text messaging, which is nice.  They were not happy when they found out that I am leaving, and they might be moving to Frisco, but I have a good feeling about them.

   Tatiana got baptized on Saturday!  Tatiana is the lady I told you about that we were teaching for a while, she always did her homework, she understood everything, and she was just awesome!  Then she moved to Tijuana, Mexico.  She has been ready to be baptized for a while now, but I am quite sure she is in love with me and wanted to wait until next May so that I could baptize her... Yikes!  It is a long story, but I finally convinced her that it was best not to wait and to just get baptized already!  She is super involved with the Church now and I can sense a genuine conversion.  I am super happy for her!   

   Well my time in McKinney has come to an end after seven long yet short months.  We got some big news on Saturday night and lots is changing.  I'm headed to Garland to serve in a Spanish branch, basically Elder Packham's last area.  I don't know who my companion is yet, because I am going to be training a brand spankin' new missionary fresh off the plane!  So that will be interesting; neither one of us will know the area and we will probably be chickens on bikes with our heads cut off for a few weeks, but I am up for the challenge.  I'm also the district leader there; just moving up in the world one rung at a time!   I haven't slept too well for the last two nights since receiving the call, just because there is lots to think about and prepare for; but I wanted change, I wanted things to get spiced up, and here I have it!  I am excited for the upcoming adventure and new people, new experiences, and new opportunities.    As for McKinney, they are redividing the area again.  Elder Patton is headed to west McKinney and training as well, and Elder Packham is staying on the east side and getting Elder Nish for his companion.  Elder Nish was in the MTC with me and he is a real goofball.  They should get along well together. 

-a package filled with love would be greatly appreciated!

Thank you for the pictures!  It is so nice to see some familiar faces!  That picture of Tom threw me for a loop and I was quite confused for a split second.  My first thought was that it was an old random picture of Tom and Broc that I had never seen before!  But his trip sounds like the neatest thing ever!  Tell him I am proud of him, will ya?  Cousin Drew looks like he got himself a righteous daughter of God, congrats and well done!  I got an email from Chloe about a month ago.  I can't believe they are done already!  Life is crazy.

Much love I send to all! 

Elder Williams

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Week Sixty Four - Catching Critters and a Baptism in Lakewood!

The trio!  Elder Packham, Elder Patton and David!

Bowling!  I think David was King Laban!

Elder Patton and Elder Packham and the frog!

Baptism of Williams in Lakewood with Elder Haskell!

The trio at golf!

Free lemonade, anyone?

David, Rachel and her companion and Elder Patton.
We had a good week here. We taught a lot of lessons and worked well with members, more and more splits! 
   The Sisters had the idea to do a lemonade stand outside of the Church one afternoon, and we helped them out.  In an hour we had like five members come get lemonade, and only three nonmembers.  Could have gone better, could have gone worse.
   On Thursday we had our first attempt at a weekly branch soccer night.  Not a lot of people knew when and where, but we had about twelve people there in total.  Elder Packham is a surprisingly good goalie, but us elders are pretty bad.  It was still lots of fun though!  I don't know what it is about Hispanics, but activities with them are so much more fun!  Hopefully this next week will be better and we can get some investigators and less actives out there. 
 We had an interesting weekend with food.  We had tilapia twice, and the eyes were still on it, and we had to eat around all of the ribs, but it wasn't bad.  Then I tried some catfish head soup for the first time, as well as a habanero pepper.  I only took a tiny bite, and I cried and suffered for way too long.  I never need to do that again! 
   One night this past week as we were walking to our apartment at the end of the day, I spotted a decent sized frog!  We had quite the adventure trying to catch it, and we succeeded.  Then two nights later, we saw a large cockroach running across our wall.  It was dark when I first saw it and I thought it was a mouse.  That's how big and fast it was!  So we tore the apartment apart trying to catch that thing, and we succeeded.  It definitely added some excitement to our day. 
   On Saturday we had to go to Lakewood to see the baptism of William G., and 11 year old kid that Elder Crockett and I found almost a year ago.  He is the one that we could never get to talk unless we talked about Pokemon.  He is a very quiet and almost emotionless kid, but he said that the missionaries changed his life and I am so happy for him!  His mom can't drive, can't read, and is always working.  She is a super nice lady though and hopefully she will get involved with the Church soon.  As for his dad, I only met him once, and William's mom always told us that he has an "ugly character/attitude", so who knows where that will go.  So because his parents are not able/not willing to get involved with the Church right now, the ward waited awhile before they let him get baptized, just so people could get to know William and he could get a good support group.  I am confident that the ward will keep him active and he could be a missionary some day! 
   We have a couple of recently returned missionaries coming to the branch right now and they are absolute studs.  They were both practically AP's, one in Paraguay and one in Colombia.  They have been coming out with us for splits and I am learning a lot from them.  The one that served in Colombia served in the same mission as a friend of mine, Jesse Walker.  I asked him if he knew an Elder Walker.  "Elder Jesse Walker?' he responded.  "Yeah!" I said.  Turns out the Elder Jesse Walker was the missionary that took this guys spot as AP when he came home.  No way!  It's crazy how small the world is.  I am not surprised that Jesse is an AP.  I'm not sure if y'all ever met him or knew him, but he is probably one of the happiest, kindest kids I know.  So that was cool to learn.
   I've been sick for the last few days with lots of flem in my chest and a bad sounding cough.  I don't cough too much, but when I do it hurts.  I've just been taking lots of vitamin C and some dayquil, and I think I am getting over it.  I got it from Elder Patton, so hopefully I can pass it off to Elder Packham now. 
   The trio is great.  Elder Packham is strange and often in his own little world, but he makes us laugh often.  Elder Patton is awesome.  It is nice to teach again with somebody that speaks Spanish fluidly.  He knows how to have fun and make people laugh.  Something about him reminds me of my best bud, Ely.  I'll be honest, sometimes we get a little distracted, but we also work really well together and are getting a lot done. 

-we had a cold front come through this week and we had few days in the low 80's, and one day in the 70's!  I'm quite sure that is almost unheard of for this time of year in Dallas, so we enjoyed it.  This week is supposed to be back up into the hundreds though. 
-I don't need anything.  I really like the CD's you sent me though, so thanks!  I also got the package from Grandma Pratt and those yogurt gronola bars are delicious!  Tell Grandma and Grandpa thank you for me!
-We are 100% car right now, thank goodness. 

That is all I can think of for this week.  All is well, I am happy, and time is flying!  Thanks for the email.  Love and miss everybody!  Godspeed. 

Elder Williams