I am so grateful for fasting and prayers! The past week has been super rough for me. One thing that contributed to my stress level last week was the fact that the chapel we have been using may have been seized by the landlord. The Branch President chose to hold church yesterday at the East New York chapel, which is quite a long train ride away from the vast majority of the members. This is extremely frustrating to me, because it means that getting less-actives and investigators to church is going to be a titanic struggle. We had to call everyone, and we can't even go into the old Marcy chapel to retrieve church-owned materials. Needless to say, Sunday morning I was having a bad day. We went out teaching afterwards, and our first appointment fell through. We then met up with the ward mission leader, a fine and stalwart member, and visited a potential investigator. As I found out this morning, Madi was fasting for me yesterday. She must have broken her fast around five pm MST, because that man, James, is now our golden investigator. After that, we had a brilliant lesson with a less-active family, and a great first lesson with a young family. I received several compliments that my Spanish has been improving greatly, and I feel much more competent as a missionary. So, thank you so much, Madi, for fasting for me. I feel the effects of all your prayers, and thank you all for them, from the bottom of my heart. Heaven knows I need them!
I got a new companion last week, Elder Pavon. He's a great guy and missionary, a convert of two years, the only member in his family, and he's from Pueblo Mexico.
Mom asked a bunch of questions that I will try to answer here:
-First, for transfer meeting all the missionaries with leadership callings, the new missionaries, the departing missionaries, and the missionaries getting new companions go to the Mission Office/Rego Park chapel. There we receive instruction from President and Sister Calderwood, hear specially prepared musical numbers, and a couple missionaries give brief talks. After the closing prayer of this devotional, the calls start. The zone leaders walk up to the pulpit and read off the names of the companionships in their zone. This is the first time we find out who our new companion is and where we will go. This is my favorite part of transfer meeting, because there is such an excited atmosphere, and a good part of mission culture shows. After that there is a leadership training meeting for all the district and zone leaders, during which their companions and the departing missionaries perform what's called a 'street sweep around the Rego Park mall. This is where we 'fearless' people try to make some street contacts. After that we go home.
-I don't think I'm a very good guide as far as what to feed missionaries, because I'm used to delicious authentic Mexican food. My advice is: anything and everything. As long as there is a plenitude (oops, that means fullness- abundance is the word) of food on the table, and as long as it's yummy (which all of your cooking is), it should do the trick.
-We eat at members' homes fairly often. It's just Hispanic culture to feed us, and feed us a lot. Last Saturday we went to two barbecues.
-Don't worry about the gmail stuff, it is mission related. -I use my iPad all the time. We have an area book app that has our planner, our actual area book with all the names, and a tab for goals, tasks, and plans. We also use the Gospel Library app extensively. I don't really even use or carry my paper set anymore because all my highlights and notes are saved to my LDS account. You can read any church-published material dating back to the early 70s, including all missionary material, so we use it in lessons extensively. We are also allowed to use the Family Search app, and I've used that quite a bit to learn more about our ancestors. One of my favorites is on Nana Hull's side- a man named William Walker. He was an Indian Scout for LDS settlers in Arizona, and he had some crazy stories to tell! As far as restrictions, we are only allowed to have specific apps downloaded, and those are all contained in a private (it's classified as corporate) app store. That, and I believe the iPads are all being black boxed, in case there is an issue that needs to be cleared up.
-No, I haven't been using my short sleeves that much. It's still super chilly in the mornings and nights, but it's starting to get up there.
I'm super excited to Skype you all this Sunday! I might be able to do it after nine, but it'll probably depend on where and when we can get Wi-Fi. If we can get it at home, it'll be sometime around 5 or 5:30 pm my time, but if not, it might be earlier. I'll do my best to keep you posted, but to be safe, log in to Skype right after you get home from church, and stay close to the computer :)
I will pray for Spencer throughout the next day or two that he will do well on his AP tests, and I'm happy for Uncle Matt ;) I also must comment that I absolutely love Elder Bednar's patterns of light. We quote it a lot to our investigators. I think Elder Bednar is my favorite apostle :)
Elder Richard Brandt Hull
P.S. - Here are a couple pictures of Elder Ruiz and me with some families we visit a lot. Also, there are a couple pictures from one of the barbecues Saturday.