Monday, July 20, 2015

Week One in Portland

So it has been one busy week. The Elders before us had scheduled so many appointments and activities and they had a car so it was quick and easy for them to get around, but since we are on bikes it's so hard to get around and be on time to everything. I have legit lost five pounds since being here and my legs have never been so sore! We bike at least 10 miles each day and we have to bike straight up hills some of the time so I have definitely been getting a lot of exercise. The biggest downside to bikes is that it is so hot and humid here and when we get to our appointments we are out of breathe and sweating like crazy, but most people are nice and get us water.  Whoever said that it always rains in Portland is crazy because there hasn't even been an overcast day! Being on a bike is really interesting because we talk to a lot of people on the streets and we have talked to a lot of homeless people and they say some pretty interesting things. 

Here is a run down of our typical day:

We wake up at 6:30 and we prepare and exercise and eat breakfast. Then at 8 we have personal study and at 9 we have companion study. Then from 10am until 9pm we are either teaching investigators, or visiting less actives, tracting (knocking doors), or contacting on the streets or the park, or have different meetings. Then we go home and we eat (if we didn't have a dinner appointment) and plan for the next day.

So Tuesday was supposed to be our P-day, but the Elders before us had scheduled three appointments so we didn't really get to do anything.  At our first appointment, we met with a guy named James Fergason.  He is less active and struggling in life and  is really looking for happiness. He has started to come to church every single week and started reading. He is awesome. We just want him to find that faith that God can help him. We also met with Gayle who is a recent convert. We didn't meet with her for long, we just stopped by to say hi. She is super sick so she can't really move, but she still likes us to come over and teach her. She used to smoke three packs a day and she quit and was baptized in May. We meet with her on Tuesdays and Thursdays. We then met with a less active family, the Pabsts. They are way cool and its just Sister Pabst and her son Daniel. They are friendly and love the missionaries, we are going over there for dinner on Tuesday. That evening we went tracting and we met a lot of nice people and had some interesting conversations, but no one let us in to teach. The last house we tracted was a family with two little kids and they told us to come back so we are excited about that. It was our first day biking and I have never been so sore, but it was nice to get a lot done and visit a lot of people.

We had a new missionary training meeting. All the new missionaries met at the Stake Center and President Ballard went over some different things, and we basically learned how to use our iPads and the different things we can do with them. iPads are probably one of the best things ever for a missionary to have, it has everything!

When we got back to our area, we met with Brother Chiniquy who was just reactivated as a member and he is super nice. He has a wife and two kids and he brings the kids to church, but the wife doesn't come.  He wants to get engaged with the church and have a calling. He is a young guy and way awesome. We then met with one of our investigators, Rowan. Her parents are divorced and her dad is a convert. Her dad, Brother Roberts, is amazing. He is such a good dad to her and wants the gospel in her life, but the mom won't let her get baptized until January which stinks. We then met with a lady in the ward Sister Kerezman. Her son is less active and she wants help with him. For dinner we went to Olive Garden with a member in the Stake that goes by Brian da Hawaiian haha. He took 14 missionaries to Olive Garden! He is such a cool guy and he is paralyzed in his legs and left arm and he is one of the most giving people.

On Thursday I had my "oh crap I'm a missionary" moment and it finally hit me. We went to lunch with a member in our Ward, Brother Christiansen.  He is about 92 years old, but he is hilarious! Anyways, he took us to Costco to get hot dogs, pizza, and milkshakes. He dropped us off while he went to go park the car. I was standing in line and my companion went to go save a table. Let me tell you this place is PACKED! The line was huge and I was just standing there and a lady toward the front of the line calls back, "Hey Elder! Hey Elder! what are you getting I'll buy!"  I'm just standing there like who is this lady yelling at, then I realize oh crap she's talking to me!   I said we were with a member that was buying, but thank you so much for the offer. It was funny because I'm so used to looking at the missionaries on their bikes or in a food place and thinking hey look the missionaries, but now people do that to me haha. Lunch was awesome and Brother Christiansen taught us Pig Latin and we talked about the Trail Blazers. We went home and planned for like 3 hours for the next week, and it's hard to plan since we white washed and have no idea who anyone is. We had dinner with Sister Gillette and she is an awesome cook. Real nice lady. We then went to a ward Book of Mormon class and that was cool.

By far the best day I have had. President Ballard, our Mission President is Elder M. Russell Ballard's son so we had the privilege of Elder Ballard coming to visit his son on vacation. He came and spoke to all of the missionaries in our mission! We all gathered at a Stake building in Lake Oswego and everyone had the chance to shake his hand! My first handshake with an apostle!  Sister Ballard took a pic of it! He gave a great talk and then opened it up for discussion where we could just ask questions that we had about the mission and he would answer them. It was pretty cool. I also saw sister Megan Downing! She is a close friend from college and she also lives in Gilbert, Arizona!  It's weird that we live 20 minutes from each other in AZ, we both went to BYU Idaho and we both are serving in Portland! So great to see her again! After the conference we went back home and Gayle scheduled us to meet with her again so we actually went and taught her this time! It was a good lesson. Right when she was talking, she stops and says "is my face drooping?!" Then she started to make some weird faces haha it was kinda funny.  We then had another lesson with Brother Fergason and we really got to know him better and it was sad to hear some of the stuff from his childhood. After Brother Fergason, we had an appointment with Annette Johnson. She is my favorite. She is an investigator and she is this really nice black lady.  Her family is half Muslim and half Christian Science. The Elders before us met her and were teaching her the restoration. We picked up where they left off and we taught her about prayer. The coolest thing happened ...we read Joseph Smith History and I bore testimony on prayer and how it has blessed me and she started crying. We kept discussing for a little bit and we talked about families and she started to cry again. She was really feeling the Spirit I believe and she is really progressing. Hopefully she has a baptismal date soon. After the lesson when we were riding away Elder Parker said "dude are you sure you're new? You made her cry twice!" That lesson was definitely some encouragement. After that we went to the care center to visit a member and we gave her a blessing which was nice. After all this we never had time to eat so we were about to die biking home.

A side note to everyone ...invite the missionaries over for dinner! If you don't they might starve themselves. We really appreciate it when we have dinner appointments. 

Met with Rowan again. We played Monopoly with her and her dad and taught a lesson. It was fun. Elder Parker got a flat tire on the way to lunch and we had to walk our bikes to a bus stop and then we took a bus and had a member pick us up. It was an adventure. We then had lunch with a member at the park and met a Mormon who converted to Buddhism and then back to Mormon so it was interesting talking to him. That night we met with an investigator named David who's wife is a member. He's super funny, but has been taking the lessons for 10 years and is just kinda stuck. He asked where we were from and I said AZ, he said to me, you're new aren't you?, I said why do you ask. He said, "cause you're brown like the Arizona people and everyone here is white!!" Haha but we hope to get him progressing.

First sabbath! We had a lot of meetings and had a lot of less actives come to church which was awesome. Our ward is small, we have about 80 active members. There about seven kids in primary, no Elders Quorum, about five young men, and two young women. My companion and I said the opening and closing prayer in sacrament. That evening we had dinner with the Schuman-Curtis family and we had vegan burgers and Skittle cake (cake literally made with skittles in it). One of the sons likes to make really interesting food. It was quite the meal. After that we tracted for a while and went home.

Have a good week everyone!

Elder Hill

Tyler's Highlights and Hints for the week:

*Thank you so much to those of you that sent packages this week! Packages, letters, and emails make my week and days so much better!! So even if you just shoot me a short email, I really appreciate it! 
*I  will never take a car for granted again
*I've lost five pounds this week from biking 
* Say" hi" to the missionaries, they will appreciate it
*Don't eat Skittle cake
*Elder Parker is from New Hampshire. He likes hockey and he likes the outdoors. He has 11 brothers and sisters. We get along pretty well for the most part.
*I can look at emails throughout the week on my iPad, but I can't send anything until P-day so if you send an email I will most likely read it that day at some point.

 Selfie ...

 Jake the juggling guy from BYU-Idaho

 District at the MTC

 District again ...

Elder Smith - good friend from BYU-I

 Tyler's apartment is on the right under the stairs 

 Bridge in the area where he is serving

 Sister Downing from Gilbert, AZ!

 Elder M. Russell Ballard speaking to the missionaries

 Package from family and friends ...

More packages ...

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