Monday, August 26, 2013

Kansas City "the Heart of America"

Hello all!

I finally made it here to the Missouri Independence Mission. The boundaries for the mission are pretty large, so I am serving in the Chapel Hill ward of the Lenexa stake. (It's one of the stakes in Kansas City).

Anyways, our flight out here was pretty long. We flew backwards to Phoenix for about an hour on the first flight. It was difficult to try and do anything on this flight because I got a nosebleed. For 30 MINUTES!!! It just wasn't stopping, so I'm really lucky that i was sitting next to someone who was kind enough to help me out with it. I got to talking with him, and it turns out that he was a return missionary! He lives in Panama, and he served in the same mission in Guatemala as Sister W is! (I think that it's the Quetzeltenango mission, but I probably misspelled it...) Thankfully my nose stopped bleeding basically as soon as our wheels touched the runway, so I really couldn't ask for better timing (other than not at all).

My next flight was quite a bit longer, and my nose didn't gush blood, so I was actually able to talk a little more with my neighbors this time. I found out that the gentleman sitting next to me was a cook at a 4 star restaurant and that he was going to Kansas City to visit some family. Much to my dismay (because I hadn't eaten since 3 in the morning) he showed me some pictures of some of the specialties that he makes. They. Looked. Delicious. Haha I kept talking to him for a while, but he said that he wasn't interested in learning any more about the Church and fell asleep about 5 minutes later. However, there was a Muslim lady sitting next to me, and she was very interested in what we believed. As I started talking to her, I found out that she was coming to this country to study respiratory therapy, and that she had only been studying English for a short time. Also, she had never even heard about the LDS church! (or Mormons either!) Our conversation was fairly slow because of the language barrier, but she seemed sincerely interested in what I had to say. She was eager to find out what we believe, and I (hopefully) was able to shed some light on that. I gave her a copy of the Book of Mormon, and I read a couple of my favorite passages of scripture with her (while explaining them in simpler terms). I really enjoyed this experience, and it has been one of the best missionary experiences that I have had so far on my mission! As we were leaving the plane, I realized that reading the Book of Mormon might be difficult for her because of the language that it uses, so I gave her a pass along card and told her that if she called that number, that she would be able to get an Arabic copy of the Book of Mormon. I really hope that something comes out of that, but if all else fails, I was at least able to have an excellent, religious discussion with someone who was open to learn.

Kansas City Temple
Let me tell you, when I stepped out of the airport terminal, I almost literally felt like I got hit by a wall of hot air! It is so hot and humid here! I had almost already sweated through my shirt before we even got our luggage loaded into the trailer! Once we got loaded up we started on our drive to the temple to meet our mission president, President Keyes (pronounces like Kaiz). When we got there, we took a picture with all the new missionaries that came in. Apparently we ended up setting a record! There were a total of 31 new missionaries coming in, and, get this, only 3 missionaries were leaving! Haha so I'm pretty sure that we have something like 215 missionaries here now. Anyways, after the picture, Sister Keyes mad lunch for each missionary! I'm not going to lie, this was probably the highlight of the day (I still hadn't eaten). Just kidding, The best part is to come! 
After we had lunch, the mission president told us to pack up and that we were going to go visit some historical sites! We got to visit the Independence visitor center where it talked a little about the history of the saints during their time here, and also we got to visit Liberty Jail, where the Prophet Joseph received revelation during his long, cold, miserable stay there. It was really touching to hear about the things that he did even though he was treated with so much harshness. This was definitely the highlight of the day. My testimony of the truth of this gospel was strengthened even more as I was able to hear the experiences of those before me. 

After the visitor center, we all traveled to the mission home to have a kind of orientation to the mission. Basically, it was like everything we had learned in the MTC, so I was nodding off a little bit. Then, we got to have some more of Sister Keyes cooking for dinner! She is such a saint that she even cooked us breakfast too. However, I think that having all of that great food was a shock to my system, and I had a HUGE stomachache for the entire morning and well into the day... Anyways, the first thing that we did after meeting with our companions (my new companion is Elder D, and so far he seems pretty cool) was to go back to our apartments, drop off our luggage, change into our service clothes, and go do some landscaping! (By the way, Elder B and Elder W, I'm sorry that our district always joked that you were out in the middle of nowhere, I love it here. The scenery is AWESOME). If I thought that I was sweating before, man, I was drenched in sweat after this! Coupled with my stomach pains, I was not in a good state by the time that we got back to our apartment. I took some Ibuprofen and Tums, and that seemed to help.

So right after that, we got changed and went out to try proselyting! Aaaaannnnnnd I found out that we share a car with the other two elders in our ward. So it was biking time! We went to go visit some less-active members, and do some street contacting. We had some really great discussions with the members, and not so much luck with the contacting, but we tried! Oh, and if I said that I was drenched before, then think of something even more wet than that, and you can picture how I was when I got back at the end of the day! I think that that was probably one of the longest bike rides that I've been on in a looong time! Needless to say, I was feeling it the next day!

One of the coolest things that has happened here was probably when we went over for dinner at the F's (one of the members of the ward). When we were waiting for the other elders to come, we were talking with them and the subject came up that I was a visa waiter. So, (of course all moms are somehow connected in this world) Sister F asked me, is your mom Brenda? WHAT???!!! Haha it turns out that they are in the same missionary mom group because her daughter is serving in the Brazil Vitoria mission and Sister Colvin is serving in the Rio de Janeiro mission! Also, something that is even more weird, is that my mom had just emailed her 2 hours before our dinner appointment saying that I was going to the Missouri Independence mission and that she hadn't heard from me yet. It's such a small world!!! Haha so that was definitely cool to see how connected some people are!

Anyways, we basically have been proselyting for the past couple days with varying results. There are definitely a lot of difficult people here (in the bible belt) and we've had some interesting discussions where I was able to share my favorite scripture, and before I even could start talking about it, the people we were talking to brushed it off. However, I have seen plenty of people who are willing to learn, and we are more than happy to help them! We had a bit of a rough start, but things are picking up and I'm really looking forward to this next week

Elder D baptizes M
First Baptism of my mission.

OH! Here's something that I can brag about! (not really) Haha I already had my first baptism! Elder D had set up a baptism for that weekend for M. O., who was 9, and so that was pretty cool. He was the one to baptize her, but apparently I was the person giving the talk on the Gift of the Holy Ghost!!! I had never talked at a baptism before, sooooo that was a new one for me! It was really great experience to have, and I hope that we have lots like it in the future!

It's great to hear from you! I am so glad that I don't have to go through something like that! You are incredibly strong and I don't know how I would be able to handle that. I hope that you get better soon because I know that you go a little stir crazy when you don't have anything to do. It sounds like you have a lot of time on your hands and not a lot to do :( Haha, have you beaten MH3 yet? ;) Haha and please tell me, what show are you watching???? That is a ton of episodes! Haha I didn't even think that there were any shows left. Well, there aren't any for me! Anyways, I sent out a huge email about my experiences here, but I forgot to put you on the emailing list (Sorry!), I will forward it to you, but I'm pretty sure that Mom will print it up anyways. I'm really glad that I was able to get a chance to talk to you before I left (and I'm also glad that you remembered it!) and I hope that everything heals up okay.
I know that you'll definitely be out and about as soon as you can! 

Elder Colvin

P.S. Here's the part that you've been waiting for (especially Mom): we're actually going to be moving in with one of the members of the bishopric this week, so you can just send mail to the mission home. Sorry it's taken so long.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Missionary Moms are Marvelous

So a few weeks ago I (Brenda/the mom) was advised by Sister Colvin to look into joining a missionary moms email group for Brazil.  I reluctantly did (I am not a fan of social media)  and have been incredibly blessed as a result...I mean seriously!  These moms have reached out in support, answered important question such as how to handle visa issues, and now the latest blessing from one of the moms in the group:
 Elder Dayton and Elder Colvin in Shawnee, Kansas
Hello Brenda,

Your son is actually in our ward (in Shawnee, Kansas) and is having dinner at our house tonight!  My daughter is in the Vitoria Mission (that is why I am on the Brazil MM).  What a small world!  Attached is a picture for you. 
I am so excited to let you know your son arrived safely and will be living with one of our bishopric members.
He wanted me to tell you that he will need a gel bike seat as he will be in a biking mission for now, maybe an occasional car.
Enjoy your day!


HOW COOL IS THAT? Especially cool when your newly reassigned son has not been able to contact his family since leaving the MTC.  I now know that he arrived safely, is in Shawnee, is being well cared for, lives in a members home, and needs a gel seat for biking. Of course I don't know where to send that gel seat exactly, but I will find out. I wonder if he needs a bike to go along with the gel seat? 

And thus we see....that missionary moms are marvelous and make the world go round. 


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Independence Day

My Two Missions - Independence and Fortaleza
We got our reassignments TODAY!!!!! I'm not going to spoil Taylor's for you (Rapid City South Dakota), but 

I am called to serve in the Missouri Independence mission! I hope that I'm not going to get too fat... I've heard about how much they feed you there, but I think that it's going to be super awesome! I'm leaving on Wednesday morning on a 7:20 AM flight from Salt Lake City to Phoenix, and then a 8:52 flight from Phoenix to Kansas City! I'm really stoked to go there, because I've been all over the country, but not in the middle like that! I'm not sure if I will need a shoulder bag or another suit, or really anything about that, so I guess I'll leave that up to you! I already got my fingerprints done and sent both copies in the mail to you this morning! (Apparently I have a very unique print on my left index finger?) Anyways, I hope that I won't lose all of my Portuguese in the coming months! I'm going to be the second to last person leaving from my district, so we are going to have a very small class on Monday! I hope that we can learn a lot of tricks that will help us to keep learning the language even if we don't have the opportunity to speak it! Everything is going absolutely great for me, and I'm just ready to get out of the MTC (or spiritual prison... It depends on how you look at it!) Eu amo vocĂȘs muito! Tchau!
Two mission calls, each time we are in "close" proximity!
My first and favorite missionary companion! I hope that we get to fly to Brazil together!
Irmao H
Irmao W

Elder S, my friend from Spokane going to Brazil
 President and Sister Hacking, the 1st counselor in the MTC presidency, and apparently he was the Missouri Independence mission president only a couple of years ago!

My transitional district at the MTC
Elder Colvin

Missouri Independence Mission includes some of Kansas, a little bit of Nebraska, and the western third of Missouri.  There is a lot of church history in this area, Far West, Liberty Jail, Independence, Adam-ondi-ahman...lots of cool stuff.

Independence Visitors Center

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

More studying....


We got word that there are a couple of new changes that affect me.  We can now wear khaki's, and we are NOT allowed to wear backpacks... Sooooo I guess that I'm going to need a shoulder bag or something... Anyways, thanks for the white shirt, we got to go to the temple today! We went at 6:50 in the morning!!! it was really great to be able to go before I left the MTC.  

Thank you so much for all of the hard work that you're putting in! I'm so lucky to have someone like you working so hard to help me. (referring to the extra visa work I have been doing) Nothing really that important has been going on this week at the MTC (it's all been kind of monotonous). We have class, study, language study, study, class, and studying in class. Haha, it's seriously more studying than I have ever done in my entire life! (Which is saying something since he got an associates degree in engineering at age 18).  

I'm getting along a lot better with my district and my companion. I think that it's just been really really stressful spending more than 10 hours a day in about a 12x18 ft room for weeks at a time. I'm really excited that I will be able to get out of here, even if it is not going to be Brazil, or if I'm not even going to make it there for another 4 months. I just want to actually make a difference. 

I wish I could talk more... But nothing really important has been going on... I saw Elder E the other day (Tanner) and I talked to him for a little bit. 

Sis. Colvin (That would be his sister Taylor) and I are planning on playing a duet together (possibly in front of the entire MTC) but we'll see about that. It still has some that need to come together. (Turns out that they do get to play at the outgoing missionary devotional on Sunday evening before they leave for their new reassignments.  It will be a bitter sweet moment for them to play together one last time.  They have grown very close in this past year together. Of course all of my information comes from Taylor.  Once they are separated, I will not have a clue what is happening in Garrison's world!)

Practicing our duet
Taylor is piano 1 of course!

Also, this is a rumor so it's probably wrong, but we might be having an apostle speak to us tonight! (turns out that Elder Scott spoke to them!) I really hope so, we always have speakers who we have never even heard about before!  But Tuesday devotionals are always really great! 

I hope things are going absolutely amazing for you! I heard about the date night thing that Dad set up for you, and that sounded like a really really awesome thing to do! I love you tons!

Final touches just prior to the devotional.
Special permission to hug goodbye...for 22 months!

I think you might be getting too old for mountain biking! It seems like something always goes wrong whenever you go! Maybe it's a sign ;) Anyways, how do you fix an MCL tear? Are you going to have to have surgery too? Or will you just need to lay off all of the fun things you like to do for the next couple months? Or both? I hope that everything is going to be fine, but it sounds like we have a family of cripples right now! I got pretty sick and I had a fever and a headache last night and so we didn't go to class and I think that I slept it off because now I'm only coughing today! I really hope that it won't get as bad as it was for some of the people in my district, because they were really REALLY sick. They both had fever of 104. Soooo, I hope I'm not that sick.   I heard about all of the VISA troubles that are going on... I think that I'll really enjoy teaching in english for a change, but I'm pretty sure that I will lose all of the Portuguese that I've learned... Anyways, what happens will happen! For better or for worse, I know that I am going to go wherever I need to go. I hope you feel better soon!

Elder Colvin

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Photos from week 4

Elder W studying in our little cubicle.
Elder? and Elder H
Elder H

Elder N
Elder Colvin, Elder W, and Sister Colvin on P-day.
Sister M (on the right) and her companion!  It is great to see friends from home! 

What life is like here:

We have breakfast at 6:30, then usually class from 7-10 (where we either learn about the language, gospel, or how to teach effectively). We also will have another 3 hour class period sometime later in the day, but the times vary a little bit, except that they are all 3.. hours... long..... and sometimes that gets hard. Also, during those class times our teachers will pretend to be investigators (people who are looking into the church) and we have to teach them. In Portuguese. Oh yeah, we also have this computer program to help us with the language called TALL, but I don' like it very much so I just usually study on my own.

We've been teaching the same two 'people' for the past 2ish weeks and we've been making pretty good progress. It's really hard but I love it. Aside from class time, we have personal study time 10-11 where we can choose to study anything we want (gospel related of course).  I've been really enjoying that, especially once I've started to keep a journal about my studies. I've never done that before and I'm surprised at how much I like it! Then we have lunch at 11. The food here is killing me because it is all soooo fattening! And I have a really hard time just eating salad all the time! Haha 

I guess that I am a neat freak, or everyone else is a slob
Throughout the rest of the day it varies but we have a lot of additional study time (for language/gospel stuff/piano for me) and language study for a couple hours. Also, we get 50 min of gym time at varying times every day, and that's something that I always look forward to. Usually I play basketball or 4-square (Parker was telling me about how fun it was and it's pretty crazy), but I've been planning on switching it up and lifting more weights.

Then we have dinner at 4:00 P.M. which is a weird time of day to eat dinner.  Anyways, then we have a planning session every night from 9 -9:30 to plan out our next day (what we're going to study, what we're going to teach, etc.). 

Not sure which end of the trade this is?
Then we have personal time until 10:30. I usually exercise a little bit during this time/trade ties with other missionaries.  Then it's lights out and that's basically my day to day schedule! 

The only two days that are different are Tuesdays and Sundays. On Sunday we have our church meetings and a TON of study time. Haha it doesn't actually feel that different from any other day because we're doing so much church stuff aleady, but it's always a nice day. We have Sunday night devotionals where we have speakers come! We also have quite a few musical numbers and afterwards we watch a church film. Tuesdays we can sleep in until like 6:30! That's really late for us because we usually have to get up around 5:45 every day, and an extra 45 minutes is really nice! Anyways, all we do on Tuesday is write letters, do our laundry, work out for a little bit, and then go to another devotional at 7. Then our district returns to our classroom to talk about how the devotional was. Then we get to go back to our rooms and have our last hour of the day to do what we want. 
We share a tiny room with 6 elders.  This is a view from my bunk of the other 2 sets of bunks!

One of these things is not like the other......What can I say, I was trained to make my bed every day. This picture was taken just to make my mother happy!
It's been that way for the past 4 weeks, so I'm just about ready to get out of here! Anyways, things are great, even if they're a little slow sometimes, and I have had an amazing experience here that has really really helped me. I hope you're doing well! 


Elder Colvin