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 LDS.org IIRC.