Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The 1st Week...He Only Thought He Spoke Spanish...

Alright, time to answer questions!

Tennessee is great! It is really really really cold here. It's snowed EVERY single day since I got here and it's humid, so the cold penetrates all the way to your bones.
I am in the Pigeon Forge area of Southern Tennessee. I'm in Pigeon Forge Branch (all Spanish :) I understood about 20% at church on Sunday). Our area covers all of Sevier County, all the way to Smokey Mountains National Park. It's super duper pretty here. It's like a combination of St. Louis and Little Rock. Pigeon Forge is often described as a mini-Las Vegas. We're super close to Dollywood (which is strictly forbidden to missionaries haha :) ) and there are all kinds of weird buildings, hotels, and museums. There are a few Hispanic areas in town that we tract a lot.
Our apartment is actually just north in Sevierville. Our apartment has two rooms: upstairs and downstairs. Downstairs we have a couple tables for desks, a couch, and a kitchen. Upstairs is the bathroom and our beds. The apartment is about 10 feet from the highway. 3 weeks ago a car on the highway lost a wheel and plowed through the apartment so a lot of it is new. The elders weren't home at the time (which they actually got in trouble for since it happened at about 2145) and no one was hurt but the apartment was...como se dice...totaled :). Wednesday was the first day that it had power and water again--just in time for us to move in :). The other elders had been living in a hotel for a couple weeks.
The first day we stayed at the mission home, had dinner and a couple of orientation classes. The next day we went to transfer meeting, got a companion and off we went. My companion is Elder Woller. He's from Oregon and he's awesome! He's been out 6 months and is our district leader. Our district is actually really small, just us and the English elders in the same area. Their apartment is down the street.
We cover a HUGE area and only have a set number of miles that we can drive each month (we share the car with the English elders) so we do a lot of biking and walking. Oh! That reminds me. Our helmets got stolen (yes they were locked up mom...:) ) so we had to buy new ones...that was fun.
I do get delicious food! We have dinner appointments every night and it's all super tasty. 95% of the branch is from Honduras, so we get some really interesting, but really tasty food!
Anyway, President thought it was pretty cool that he was in my line of authority.
I'm having the time of my life out here on my mission. I've never been happier or closer to the Spirit! Each day is like a week of normal spiritual progression. You learn so much so quickly it's hard to keep up with yourself. :)
Eeek...I'm running out of time. We type e-mails at the library (which was closed yesterday, hence the e-mails today) and they have a one hour time limit to write e-mails and our weekly report to President Griffin.
Tell Grandma 'hi' for me if she hasn't left yet.

Thanks oobers for the Valentine's Day package. :) It had all my favorite things in it (including socks...) :).
Bryan, Good luck with your Board of Review, I'm sure it will go well!

Swine cat (Mori got out again, we spent over 2 hours looking for him, finally found him huddled on the neighbors front porch)...at least the neighbors moved...now you can open the windows at night :).

Elder Raymond

Made It!!! (11 Feb 2010)

Here is a letter we just received in the mail with the attached pictures! One is of Alec with Pres. & Sis. Griffin, the other is with his first companion in the field, Elder Woller!

Dear Famiree,
I made it safely to Knoxville. The Area is beautiful. The mission home and office are beautiful. President and Sister Griffin are AMAZING! I feel really good about being here and I'm very excited to get to work. There are 20 Spanish-speaking missionaries here and 3 Spanish-only branches and several Spanish/English wards. I don't have a companion yet, but I have eaten real food. :)

I'll write you all on P-Day (Monday).

Elder Raymond