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.

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