Monday, August 29, 2011

Twenty Six Bedroom...

Spotted this behemoth in the parking lot near Old Faithful.
Awesome doesn't even begin to describe it...but maybe claustrophobic comes close.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Beartooth Highway...or...Switchbacks (backwards) R Us

I've decided not to even attempt to post pictures of our recent vacation to in any sort of chronological order...we covered about 3,900 miles. Yes people, that's 3,900 miles!! Much of those miles were on scenic routes and back roads.  Some were on dirt roads... I'll just divide up the trip like a pie.  Everybody likes pie...right?

Our travel along the Beartooth Highway will be featured as the first slice:

We started at the bottom of this valley - coming south out of Red Lodge, Montana.
We kept going up...and up...

...and up...

...until we were above, well, pretty much everything.

Marcy and I took about seventeen thousand pictures.  Each.

The top  was surprisingly flat-ish. Yes, we sang I'm On The Top of the World.  Badly. Very badly.  Fortunately Steve was able to supply some forgotten lyrics. Unfortunately Marcy and I sang them.

Even the road construction stop was breathtaking.
(This is not it...the stop looked at least this nice...if not better)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Hola Elder

So, my first week on the mission field. It's been pretty "waitwhatexactlywasIexpecting", if that makes any sense.

The first day where we flew to Long Beach was pretty good. We woke up at like 3:50 (Utah time), got to the travel office at 5AM, and then my companion and I were randomly selected to help with the check-out process. The ride from the MTC to the airport was pretty pleasant (I think we spotted 5 temples).

Somehow I managed to win the lottery and score a first-class seat for the flight to Long Beach. The man sitting next to my assigned seat had his girlfriend on the flight, and she decided to sit next to him rather take her first-class seat. As a result of this, I ended up learning that the only particularly special thing about first class is the leg room.

I was really impressed with the weather in Long Beach once we got off the plane. It was in the mid-60s with a nice breeze, and most of the airport was outside to boot. According to the mission president the weather is practically the same every day. Cool, cloudy mornings followed by sunshine and a gradual increase in temperature (but it rarely rains and it's never too hot). He said the more north (away from the coast) you are the in the mission the hotter it gets in the day, but the northernmost area in the mission (Whittier) is only about
10 degrees warmer than the coast (hey guess where I got assigned).

Right after the airport the mission president took us to the top of Signal Hill, from which we could see the entire mission basically (smog permitting). It was quite the sight.

After that was lunch and orientation at the mission home, and then some vehicle safety stuff and interviews with the mission president at the mission office. Since there were 15 new missionaries in our group, that latter part took quite a while. By the time my interview took place we were already running half an hour late (I was second to last), so he only talked with my for about 2 minutes ("areyouworthyareyouhealthydoyoupromisetoreadthebookofmormonin90days" "yes" *hug* "gettowork").

My companion/trainer is named Elder Bradshaw. He has only 2 transfers left, so training me is going to be the last thing he does. If I could describe him in a sentence, I'd say "He's the opposite of Elder Lybbert." That is to say: he's from the US but lives in Canada now, and some other things. Anyways, we're serving in the Whittier area, which is the northernmost area of the zone. If it ever really gets that hot up here then I guess the reason would be that I'm not noticing is because we have a car, which I am the designated driver of not because of my driving skills, but because my companion says he has epilepsy. I'm pretty sure I've gotten ourselves almost-killed about 4 times per day so far with my level of driving competency.

The language is... coming slowly. If I listen really hard I can usually understand the gist of what people are saying, but there's still a lot I need to learn. Right now I'd guess I'm understanding 10% of what people are saying around here. Sacrament meeting was rather interesting, though. It was a testimony meeting for all the youth and youth leaders that went on some scout camp thing or something, and there was Spanglish all over the place. The other two hours of church were decidedly less linguistically adventurous, sadly.

The work itself has been different from what I expected (which is what I expected, now that I think about it). Between our hour of language study and our extra hour of companion study (part of the new training schedule) and lunch and dinner, I always feel rather surprised at how little time it seems we have.

I'd write more but I just realized that I have to write to my mission president during this time.

P.S. If you want to see the mission boundaries you can check out LDSmaps on IIRC.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Pacific Science Center with the Munchkins

Watch out Kaith! Your evil genius is showing.

Sterling and Grandpa learned what happens when a plastic bottle full of liquid
nitrogen is sunk in the bottom of a barrel full of water.

Ride 'em caterpillar!

Trevor and Sterling are really into music.

No, there wasn't really a rope swing...but Miriam and Andrew were well able to improvise.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Hola Elder

So, um, this is going to be my last week at the MTC. Feels pretty weird.

I got my travel plans on Thursday. I'll be leaving on Tuesday and I'll have to report to the travel office at 5AM (read: I'll probably have to wake up at 4AM). My flight at the SLC airport leaves at about 8:30 and arrives directly at the Long Beach airport 2 hours later at about 9:30. After that I have no idea what's going to happen, other than that supposedly everybody in our mission goes to the Newport Beach Temple every transfer. (Have you seen any pictures of it? It looks amazing.) Anyways, the point here is that apparently I can call you guys home at the SLC airport. I'm not entirely sure how payphones work nowadays, but don't be surprised if you get a call from me between 6 and 7 AM next Tuesday (your time). As to the question "what do you think you'll miss most about the MTC?" I have to respond with the answer "I don't have a clue." I might miss the food, but honestly I think it'll be for the best. To say the least, my bowels don't exactly agree with all the stuff they feed us here. I'm pretty sure I won't miss the computers here or anything like that, but I do kind of regret that I didn't figure out how to effectively use TALL until like a week or two ago (the listening activities they have are really great). If I do miss anything from here, it'll probably be either having gym five days a week or our teachers.

Granted, this is all conjecture. For all I know I'll end up being horribly wrong.

Our district (and most the other districts with 7 weeks of Spanish under their belts) were hosts for the new missionaries on Wednesday. I only ended up hosting one Elder, Elder Hanks, but it turned out that he's in our branch and that his bedroom is right next to ours. (He's going to New Jersey, if you're interested.) I also hosted three Sisters, but that mostly entailed carrying their luggage 50 feet to the Sisters' residence and then having the Sister hosts take over from there. In one case we ended up doing a bit more, because apparently the new Sister's room was in a different building from the rest and on the top floor (and the building didn't have an elevator). Me and another elder carried her luggage to the top floor. (Don't worry, only the top floor of said building was a Sister's residency. (Floors 2 and 3 are Elders' residences, and Floor 1 is like the barbershop and stuff (weird building)).)

Hasta martes,
Elder Oeste