Well, I'm finally here. Santa Rosa, is the new place to call home for the next two years. The first night we got in here was AWESOME. We headed straight to the mission home and dove head first into some orientations and training. We went over EVERYTHING there is to know about the mission. Each and every one of us had an interview with the mission president. I got to meet him & his wife. They're awesome people. You can truly tell they find joy in serving as mission presidents. After meeting with them we headed to a nearby hotel. Right when we got there, they advised us to go to bed because "it was going to be the best night of sleep we had for two years." Which I can now testify that what they said was true. I've been more tired and sleep deprived than EVER before in my life.
This past week has been one of the hardest weeks of my life and I'm quite confident in saying that. I was so anxious to actually get out into the field and be able to start this journey. Now, I'm beginning to understand what everybody meant when they said "the first three months would be the toughest". I sit on my bed and often find myself thinking about coming home and the joy that it will bring me to see my family and friends again. But before I get too deep into thought, I'll hear my trainer calling my name while speedily heading out the door to ANOTHER appointment. (I guess the Lord works in mysterious ways.) He has been working me until I just about die. In a way, I see how this is going to benefit me in the future, but right now in the moment it's tough work. It's not even necessarily work, its labor.
We currently have 3 baptismal dates set up for August, and are hoping for 2 more. There are a ton of people out here in California with religious backgrounds. All ranging from catholic, protestant, baptist, christian, etc. They all have these great churches that they attend to, but all the investigators claim to be looking for "more." A lot of them tell us that they just "aren't quite satisfied with everything their church practices". For us missionaries, it makes our spiritual senses tingle. It feels so good to share lessons and truth with these wonderful people. You really start to appreciate having developed a testimony and being brought up as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints from such a young age.
My favorite investigator of all is an older woman named Linda. Shes an African American in her late 50's. And MAN O' MAN does she have a personality on her. She's got every bit of Oomf and pizazzle on her that you wouldn't find anywhere but the south. (She's from Louisiana of course.) She is a DIE HARD Christian and has a very spiritual side to her. We taught her The Restoration of the Gospel the other night and it was by far the coolest experience I've had out here on the mission. The spirit was so strong. She tried to bible ash a little bit at first, but once we started to explain things and tell her more about the Mormon beliefs,she simmered down. We gave her a Book of Mormon and invited her to take Moroni's promise in Moroni 10:3-5. She said she would read and then ponder & pray about everything. She seemed to be interested in everything we had to say and she insisted we set up another appointment with her this week. I can't wait to see her progression and where she goes from here!
I am going to continue forward in faith that The Lord will take me by the hand and help me enjoy this work. I am going to start seeing the brighter side of things and look forward with confidence. This upcoming week is going to be a scorcher, and we are completely out of miles on our car... But I know that as I'm optimistic, I'll be alright. The Lord's got me.
I hope and pray you are all doing well. I pray every night for your safety and protection. Please keep me in your prayers. Elder Achal and I really appreciate it.
"Put your head down, and keep those feet movin." I'll see you soon. GodSpeed.