This has most definitely been a VERY interesting, and very awesome week to say the least. I finished up my last week at the MTC and got shipped out to the Provo mission last tuesday morning. There were about 10 of us all going to the Provo mission from the MTC, and so they came and picked us all up in a big white van, with a dinky little trailer behind it. It was snowing alot (It had snowed about 6-8 inches just that night) and so the van ended up getting stuck, and we had to be pulled up a couple hills by some trucks. Anyways, we got to the mission home, met the mission president, ate food, talked for a little while, had an orientation with the mission president and his wife, then got back on the van and went about 5 miles away to a stake center. There we met some of the zone leaders, had another orientation, and had our interviews with the mission president. Shortly after that we all got paired up with our new companions and departed for our respective areas. All of this happened before about 11 o clock in the morning. My new companion (Elder Vivanco), I, and about 6 other elders then went out to lunch and talked a bit about the mission. Just when we were about to pay and leave the waiter came over and told us that someone had paid for our meals for us and that we could just leave whenever we were done. That pretty much blew my mind for awhile. Anyways, then we split up, and I got to go unpack for a little while. Shortly thereafter my comp and I went out and started teaching! My mind was thoroughly blown. Not 12 hours before, I had been in the MTC wondering about what would happen in the actual mission, and there I was sitting in a REAL investigators house who was asking REAL questions in REAL spanish. I'm not sure how otherwise to express the degree to which my mind was being blown. The first thing I noticed was that I only understood about a quarter of the spanish that was being said, whereas I was approaching 90-100% in the MTC. That was a bit of a shock to me. The other thing that I shortly realized was that every single spanish person speaks differently. My companion is from Chile and likes to leave out words here and there when he talks. Others are from Argentina, Mexico, Columbia...etc, and all of them talk differently!! It's definitely a bit frustrating. Apparently Puerto Ricans (sp?) and Spaniards are really hard to understand and I'm somewhat scared to meet any, but eventually I'll get this down. Even in just the last 6 days, my spanish comprehension has gotten a LOT better. I am excited for the day that I'll be able to completely understand what is going on. Learning another language is definitely more of a challenge that I first thought it would be, but I'll get it down with God's help.
Now, about the people here. I feel like I've entered a whole new world! The spanish world is such an incredible place. It's crazy to see the things that go on that I never even knew about before. The Spanish community is so close knit. Everyone knows everybody else, and they all either love each other, or want nothing to do with each other. At least that's the impression I have from my first week here. Another thing that surprised me was how many random words the spanish people don't know in english. It throws me off when they're going on and on and on in spanish, and then they randomly throw in some word in english. Anyways, the people here are really accepting, and I'm excited to be a part of the work here.
Christmas was pretty good. I got a bit homesick on Christmas Eve, but I got over it and moved on pretty quickly. We got a TON of candy from members for christmas which made me laugh. I pretty much am sick of candy in all types and forms now, because I've had sooo much of it in the last 2 months! I never thought it would be possible, but I'm beginning to grow out of my sweet tooth!
Alright, time for one of MANY cool experiences:
My companion and I were at the gas station filling up the car with gas (yes we have a car! BOO-YAH) And My comp told me that I had to go contact somebody while he filled up the car. I was about to go over to this one guy, but then I got distracted with something for some reason and when I looked up he was gone. Just about then this guy walks out of the door to the store with a box of Coronas and starts walking over towards his car. He glanced over to us and waved then looked back down and continued towards his car. He seemed preoccupied with something, and almost ran in to the side of his car! He looked stunned for a second, then he looked back over to us. He opened his trunk, put the beer down, shut it, and started walking over to us (I was walking towards him at this point too) We started talking for a little and I found out the he's not a member of the church, but that he's interested. He then looked at my name tag and asked me why it was in spanish. Then my companion walked up and started talking to him in spanish. We found out that he believes in God, and Jesus Christ, (He's Catholic) But that he feels there's more out there than what he's been taught. He said that he doesn't know why, but that he felt that he needed to come talk to us. We shared a bit with him, bore our testimonies (all in spanish of course), gave him a book of mormon, and set up a return appointment. He seemed really excited to learn, and we are realllllly excited to get back over to his house to teach him (and hopefully his family). Our appointment is for tonight, and I hope all goes well.
I love this gospel SOOOOOOO much. I have only been out here teaching for a week, and I have already seen miracles happen. The Church is true, that's all I need to say
Marry Christmas, Happy New Year, and hasta luego!