Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Email Nueve - Howdy from Russellville!

October 17,2016

Well folks I've made it. I'm finally here. It's really really nice to not have to answer where I'm going on my mission anymore.

The last week in the MTC was sweet. I got to see my pals Elder Brayden Buttars and Elder Jaeron Masina come in two Wednesdays ago, which was awesome. Elder Buttars and his district just happened to be a couple doors down, but in a different branch, I still got to see him a bunch of times, which was a tender mercy, because I love that kid...I mean...Elder.

Last MTC  pic with my homies from the Branch
So Elder Ibarra and I really started to understand each other that last week, we worked out our silly little problems. We really gained a deep respect for each other, and I was able to learn to let go of my pride, which definitely needed to happen. I said goodbye to him 1 week ago at 3:30 in the morning, then I spent the rest of that day either packing by myself or with Elder Villarreal and Elder Ramon. It was weird. The MTC went by so dang fast. Really glad I had six weeks instead of 3.

Then Tuesday morning I finished packing and then said goodbye to rest of the district (the three still there left that morning too). Driving down I-15 at 4 in the morning was strange, especially since I could see Herriman from the bus. We arrived at the airport, checked in, found our gate. The pin for the pay phone Poppa Smalls gave me didn't work, so I had to ask a lady to borrow her phone. Hearing my parents voices really made me tear up, talking to them was such a tender mercy, I can't wait till Christmas.

Then we boarded, and took off, and said goodbye to Utah for 22 months. It was really funny because I sat next to an English speaking Elder going to Little Rock named Elder Smalling(yeah that made things really confusing I'll explain later), and it was his first time flying. He saw his house from the airplane after we took off, and his mind was absolutely BLOWN. You should have seen the look on this kids face. Hilarious.

Then we landed in Atlanta, had a quick missionary moment talking to a lady who had been to Palmyra New York, then boarded for Little Rock. I was able to read Be the Fourth Missionary and the 10 page letter that McKay wrote me, and both changed my life. I was really pumped as we landed, I just wanted to land and get the heck out there, finally stop talking about missionary work and start doing it!

beatiful view of the mississippi river flying in
Flying over Arkansas was one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen. Farm field after farm field, just good ole southern green country wide open spaces by the grace of God, and then out of nowhere: LITTLE ROCK. I knew I was gonna like this place. We landed, and met President and Sister Wakolo at the baggage claim. The we got our bags, went outside, where we drove to a chapel in Little Rock and there I learned that I would be going to RUSSELVILLE ARKANSAS GETTING TRAINED BY ELDERS SOTOMARINO AND ANAYA!

Elder Sotomarino is from Peru, and as you can guess; a native speaker, which I was so grateful for. Elder Anaya is half Mexican and straight out of Los Angeles. I love these guys to death. I'm so lucky to get such awesome trainers. They have the same sense of humor as me, and everything in our companionship just flows really nicely, and they are both hilarious, so we have had lots of good times already.

So we stayed in Little Rock for a few days to have meetings about getting acquainted with the mission and everything we need to know. Every time President Wakolo said either my name or Elder Smalling's name it was super confusing because of his thick Fijian accent. But President is awesome, such a powerful guy. I met with him one on one, shook his hand, and said: "President, you're not going to have to worry about me." He was pretty happy about that.

Thursday we drove to Russellville. I was terrified entering the field, but now I don't even miss the MTC, just the people. I love it here. Lemme say that again, I LOVE IT HERE! I love the food, the culture, the people, everything.

Everyone here has a VERY VERY VERY THICK SOUTHERN ACCENT AND IT IS SO AWESOME. Basically every stereotype about the South is true here. People here are so friendly, people who aren't members (so pretty much everyone) will honk and wave at the missionaries, I feel like a celebrity! Everyone here is Christian, there is some church every couple blocks, and people are so open about Religion so talking about and sharing the gospel isn't hard at all.

Finding Hispanics has been hard because it has been bike week aka walk week because Elder Sotomarino doesn't have a bike. So we haven't been able much because we are always walking, but it's okay, it gives more opportunities to get honked at and waved to!  When we have been able to teach it's been incredible.

STORY TIME: One time we were walking through some apartments trying to find Hispanics when this very very very drunk white guy starts yelling at us: "BOY OH BOY HAVE YOU COME TO THE RIGHT PLACE, COME OVER HERE YOU SINNERS!"

So come to find out this fellers name is Bobby. Bobby says (in very explicit terms) he used to love Mormons, shoot the good ole boy has even read the Book of Mormons cover to cover, but because of something Mitt Romney did (I have know idea what) he doesn't like Mormons as much. But after talking to this feller for a little bit he warmed up to us. We had a more pleasant than expected conversation, then suddenly his crazy also very drunk wife came out and flashed us (not making this up I swear, but lucky for me I was able to look away before getting scarred for life) and told us she didn't believe in God, and then went back inside. What lovely people.

Turns out his neighbor is Latino and the wife just recently had a miscarriage, Bobby told us, "THEY NEED Y'ALLS GO TALK TO EM." You got it Bobby.

We talked to his neighbor, and set up an appointment. Can't wait to share Moroni chapter 8 with that poor mother.

This Church is dang true folks, in less than a week, I've seen how God directs His work. Truly a privilege to serve Him.

Con amor,
Elder Smalley

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