Monday, March 22, 2010

The Gates of Hell

Hola familia,

Don't let the title of my email alarm you. I wish you could get the pictures immediately, but the Gates of Hell is the name of a bronze sculpture on Stanfords campus that we got pictures in front of. It's about twenty feet tall and very intimidating. We couldn't help but get some pictures there as missionaries.

This week has been amazing. The weather has decided to be sunny for the first time since I've gotten here. We even got into the eighties on thursday. The citrus trees have fruit and the whole world is perfect. We have been very busy this week with trying to get our investigators to keep commitments. This has been the first real test of their level of commitment. Some have proven to be less committed than others.

I go on exchange tommorrow with the District Leader, Elder Pitcher. He's in the two Stanford singles wards. This will give me a chance to practice some of my rusty English skills. I'm always amazed at how long we can go without speaking English. Sometimes it is a little tricky to guess which language to use at certain times. I'm beggining to read the body language of peoples responses and begginging to be better at making the guess. For the most part, people under the age of eighteen all speak English and are much more comfortable reading and speaking English, however, they understand Spanish perfectly. This sometimes makes for weird family relationships where parent and child speak their respective languages and both understand the other enough to communicate.

Once again,


Elder Badger

Monday, March 15, 2010

Loving it here in Redwood City!!!


I feel like I say this in every letter I write, but I feel like I have never been busier. I love it!!!! Elder Tidwell and I have really been going to work in Redwood City. I can't believe they had to consolidate this area; there is so much work to do. Last week we were a little disappointed because we taught a grand total of one lesson.

This week has been much better. We went from having zero new investigators to an amazing ten. Of these ten, we have set baptismal dates for five. So far we set five dates in the last four days. We've been on a roll and hope to commit some more investigators tonight. It's amazing to teach people that have been prepared. We have felt the Spirit in every single one of our lessons but are always amazed when these people commit to baptism. It usually ends with fist pump as soon as we get in the car. Sometimes, I just hold my breath and wait for Elder Tidwell to confirm that I translated what they said correctly. It's an amazing feeling.

Speaking of translation. This week I had my first major translation mistake. We were introducing a young man to the Book of Mormon. This young man was very interested in how the Book of Mormon could bring him financial success. He then proceeded to try to sell us on a multilevel marketing scheme from Amway Global. Both Elder Tidwell and I knew the ethical implications of this and felt very uncomfortable. I decided to end it by mentioning our next appointment. Here's what I said "necisita salir. Tenemos una cita." Translated I said, "you need to leave; we have an appointment." I guess it came off a little rude, but it did the trick and got us out of an awkward situation. Oh, I forgot to mention that he picked Starbucks as a meeting place, so we felt very uncomfortable. I guess there are worse things to say in Spanish.

I love this area. The people here are so humble. We often find single bedroom apartments with a family of eight living in it. They are usually furnished comfortable, but you will often find a closet full of twin mattresses for the end of the day. I also love the diversity of people in this area. We have taught people from Chile, Peru, El Salvador, Mexico, Guatemala, Chile, Argentina, and Honduras. This leads to a very diverse diet of Latin foods, much of which is very good. It makes me glad that I'm in the US because I get to experience all of these cultures, but enjoy the comforts of stores like Target, Grocery Outlet, and Taco Bell.

As for our apartment. I feel a little spoiled. Our apartment is in the heart of downtown Redwood City. We have a very large living room and kitchen with granite counter tops and large picture windows that look out on City Hall, the city library, and the Caltran station. Needless to say, it was a sisters apartment. The members in this area are amazing. There is a strong young adult population with Stanford ten minutes away which helps us to ensure that we always have a priesthood holder with us when we teach single sisters.

We will be exploring Stanford today, which is very exciting. We have proselyted just off the campus. This experience makes me appreciate the humble Latinos even more. I would much rather talk to a Catholic than an Atheist who wants to talk about Jesus as a philosopher. I hope all is well back home. You would be surprised how much Redwood City reminds me of Lakewood. All the rain lately has made me feel right at home.

Con Amor,

Elder Badger

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

I've Been Whitewashed!!!


It feels like forever since I last wrote home. I have been whitewashed to Redwood City, CA. FIrst off, let me say that I love it here. It is amazing.

The first day after arriving in California was very long. It involved a lot of meetings and training at the mission office in San Jose. It was nice to finally leave Provo. I could tell when I got off the plane and saw the grey clouds and felt the humidity that I was in the right place. After all of the training on my first day we were then shipped off to Redwood City. It's a fairly urban city way up on the penninsula. I'm about as far north as you can go in my mission. If we go any farther north, we enter the Oakland mission. My companion is Elder Tidwell from Colorado. He's amazing and has some of the best Spanish I've ever heard. The investigators and contacts constantly comment on it which helps us to set return appointments.

Now, about being whitewashed. Let me say, it is a very interesting experience. I realize how important it is to have a well kept area book and how wonderful referrals are. Please give referrals to the missionaries. I know its scary, but people are much more accepting of the gospel than you would expect. Also please feed the missionaries we love it. On that note, I'm so glad I'm in California because we get to experience a wide variety of Latin culture. Our ward has many members from El Salvador, Peru, Chile, Argentina, Mexico, Guatemala, and a few from Brazil. This leads to a varied experience at every appointment. So far we have had Mole from Mexico, Papusas from El Salvador, and PB and J for the night we didn't have an appointment. Because we have been whitewashed into an area we have almost no investigators in our books. As such, we have been doing alomost all finding. It is beggining to pay off because we already have thirteen return appointments set for this week. That's the potential for thirteen new investigators.

About my Spanish. I'm amazed, I understand almost all of the Spanish that I have heard. My speaking still has a long way to go, but I have many opportunites to practice. It's amazing how much Heavenly Father blesses missionaries when they need to communicate with people.

About the area. I'm in a very diverse city near Palo Alto. The trick is finding the pockets with all of the Latinos. This can be tricky at times, but we manage. I had the opportunity to go on exchange with the English speaking elders on Stanford. I makes me realize how grateful I am to work with Latinos.

I love you all. I'm so grateful to be here. I know that this is where I'm supposed to be. Good luck back home. I'll let you know more next week.


Elder Badger