First, have to do the shout-outs. Sister Knecht and Kelsey Knecht, thank you SO MUCH for your "Dear Elder" letters. They made my day! You both are so kind and I appreciate the time you took to write those. Kelsey: thanks for calling me a cute missionary. It means a lot :)
BIRTHDAY SHOUT-OUT: Don't know if you're reading this, but my dearest JESSICA BIRD... I hope you had a FANTASTIC birthday yesterday. I love and miss you so much!
Okay, so this week has been a whole bunch of crazy. We flew out of Provo at 6am, left the MTC at 3am, and therefore, had to wake up at 1:30am. Of course, I had been packing the night before so I went to bed around midnight. Bleh. BUT we made it to DC! My mission president, President Riggs, and his wife met us right outside the gate. It was amazing! They are such a young couple, but are so kind and generous. I am definitely blessed to be in this mission, under their watch and care. We stayed the night at the mission home and then went to transfer meeting in the morning. My new companion's name is Sister Diamond Evans. She is a curvy, sassy, 22-year old from Detroit, Michgan. She's a convert of 4 years and has been serving for over 9 months - half way there! Upon receiving her as my companion, she mentioned that we are "white-washing" the area. I assumed she meant that this is her first time with a white girl companion, but I was wrong. It means that we were BOTH being sent to a new area, neither one of us with any knowledge of the members or stake or anything! So that was kind of scary. What's funny though is that her and her companion, Sister Russell, were split up and she got me as a companion and Sister Russell got my MTC companion, Sister Mitchell! That explains one of the pictures I'll send. Something I'm looking forward to this week - Expectations Meeting! It's when the new missionaries get to come back for a meeting at the mission home. I miss Sister Mitchell already! Can't wait to see her and my wonderful MTC district.
MY AREA. Get ready for this. GREAT FALLS, VIRGINIA. It's probably one of the most expensive areas in the mission and encompasses parts of Great Falls, Vienna, and Dunn Loring. It's in the McLean Stake, and is located up in the north part of the mission. After coming here, we received word from the bishop as well as the members that this area doesn't do so well. The members don't love missionary work that much and everyone is prideful. So that's cool! But seriously, what a challenge. Want to hear about my first door knocking experience? Okay. I knocked on the door, we introduced ourselves, the man's dog runs out of the doorway and nips at me. The man then says "He's trained to kill missionaries." We asked if we could leave a card with him, "Nope." Can we come back at a better time? "Never." Door slam and done. Guess what everyone... I hate tracting. Am I allowed to say that? It really is the most awkward and uncomfortable thing ever. Luckily, we don't do it too often because it's not very successful. I know that with time, I'll get used to it. But for now... eh.
My favorite part about the mission - meeting members! People in the ward are actually so nice! I love getting to know them and asking about their jobs. The ward is full of accountants. I've already met around 6 probably. There are huge Ernst & Young and KPMG towers in Vienna, so that explains it. Speaking of members, I've made so many crazy connections since being here. Brace yourselves:
- My bishop and his wife (Bryan and Nicole Richardson) moved from Escondido, CA 7.5 years ago. I asked if they knew David and Dana Livingston (my aunt and uncle). YES! They lived on Don Rolando, just a street over from Puebla. Too funny right?! He's a great bishop!
- We ate at the Roberts' home for dinner last night and there was a letter on a table with a picture. I looked at it quickly to realize that the girl in the picture was the Trottier's (from Fairfield) daughter! CRAZY. I asked how they knew her and apparently Brother [David] Roberts is related to her somehow. So nuts.
- Went to the Gardner family's home last night to visit. They have a beautiful Victorian house. I loved their dining room set and had to ask the mother, "Where did you get those chairs?" She said "Um, Restoration Hardware!" Nailed it! I don't know what the style was called Mom (my Mom works at Restoration Hardware), but they were well-known to be "indestructible" I guess.
That's all I can think of right now. But to let you know, the area is not too cold. I can go outside with just a cardigan and be fine! So that's great. I already taught my first lesson to an investigator and we plan to teach him tomorrow as well! I love the mission, but I won't lie and say that it's easy. It's actually quite hard. I was sad to leave the MTC and am still kind of sad. But life goes on! I'm learning a lot and am always striving to keep the Spirit with me. I'm quickly understanding the importance of taking part in missionary work, especially once I get home. It's a commandment, everyone! Just a reminder :) But do your best efforts, and Heavenly Father will recognize it all. I love this church. I love how truly simple and rewarding the gospel is and how happy it can make people, like me. And though I'm trying to open my mouth more, I know that what we know and do comes by example. Be a good example! And the rest will fall into place.
LOVE YOU ALL! Thank you for your thoughts and prayers. They really do help.