Monday, April 27, 2009

Week One in McAllen!

Hey Family!

So, I'm FINALLY here! Wow, it's pretty incredible that I've been here nearly a week. Honestly, it feels as though I've been here a few months. A lot has happened already.

Ok, so I'm in an area called Edinburg which is just outside of McAllen. We live in McAllen and have to drive about 10 minutes to get to our area. The mission home is super nice, the whole area where we live and in this part of McAllen can be equated to Beverly Hills. I'm not even joking, the majority the houses around here are huge, giant mansions. BUT you start driving towards our area and it begins to get more rural and more trailers. There still are random nice houses in the middle of nowhere, but yeah. That's just this area I suppose.

McAllen--or this part of Texas--actually reminds me A LOT of Mesa. Kind of the area where Grandma lives. Like when we were first driving to the mission office, I was looking around and definitely felt that I was driving on Stapley heading towards Grandma's. Kind of weird. But I love it. It's so nice and warm here...LOVE it.

My area is nearly all Spanish speaking. I'd say about 80 percent of the contacts we do is in Spanish and the rest in English. It really just depends. I definitely learned on my first day that they speak 3 languages here: English, Spanish, and Tex Mex. There will be some people that only speak English (or only want to speak to you in Spanish), lots that definitely ONLY speak Spanish, and then people who speak a mixture of both. It's so funny because they'll say a few sentences in English, then a few in Spanish, then an English word here or there, then tons in Spanish. It's so weird, but I'm already used it it.

So my Spanish is coming along. Not in the way I thought because you're not really "immersed" in it but still, I talk a lot in Spanish and teach in Spanish, etc. What is a real blessing is that I actually can understand people really well. When we are teaching or contacting, one of the investigators will go off on this long story, but I can--for the most part--understand what they're saying. Definitely couldn't do that two months ago when I got my call. But I love it alot.

Ok, so now for my companion. OH! I love her so much! I need to tell her more because she is SO awesome. Her name is Sister Loftus and she's from Portland, OR, went to BYU for a few years before her mission, etc. To me, she looks a LOT like our cousin Krystal Peterson. Long sandy blond hair, super cute, SO nice. She's been out a while, actually this is her last transfer before she leaves! :( But it's ok because she is an amazing missionary and I'm learning ABSOLUTELY all that I can from her. She literally talks to everyone and shares the Gospel with everyone. She knows how to talk to get people talking and interested. There's so much I need to learn from here and I only have 5 more weeks to do it. But she really is awesome. I couldn't ask for a better companion.

My first Sunday here was pretty crazy. They were having a special meeting because they were splitting 2 wards: a Spanish ward and an English ward into 4 new wards (which is WAY exciting that the church is growing so much here that both of them are getting split). But the, it was crazy. It was in both English and Spanish. So when we would sing hymns, everyone would just sing them in whatever language they knew or preferred. There were tons of kids running around all over the place (kind of strange since I've been in a singles' ward forever AND haven't seen any kids for the past 2 months), when the stake president or other people would speak, the main speak would stand up there, AND another person would stand next to him and translate what he said over the pulpit (whether it be the stake president who spoke English, or the new bishop of one of the Spanish wards who only spoke Spanish). But it was a very memorable first church in Texas experience.

We are whitewashing this area (which means that we are both new to this area this transfer) which I suppose is kind of hard. But Sister Loftus was here for about 6 months at the beginning of her mission. So she already knows the area pretty well, knows all the members, etc. Like I mentioned before, we have a car, but can ride bikes if we want to. Everyone says that how much you ride bikes depends on how much your trainer likes to ride bikes. Personally, I want to ride bikes all that I can, so if I'm ever a trainer, that will be first on the list. Haha. We have a lot of new investigators last week and will continue to teaching them. I'm really excited about them and so is she. Luckily, we teach a LOT of lessons so we don't knock doors like you imagine missionaries doing. Even if we didn't have lots of lessons, we wouldn't really have to knock doors anyways because there are ALWAYS people outside! Sitting in chairs, standing in the street, talking with friends, hanging out...I really don't know why the majority of the people are outside, all I know is that I'm grateful because it makes it really easy to find people to talk to.

I'm definitely not a very good missionary yet, probably when I'm done, I still won't be a very good missionary. But I know the Lord will help me become what he wants me to become. I'm trying my hardest every single day. It is a really humbling experience being out here and realizing that you can't do it alone. Well, I suppose to can, but you'll soon find out that you won't get very far. But I have an awesome companion and the Lord on my side who is working with me. I love my Savior, Jesus Christ, and I love telling and teaching people EVERY day about his Gospel. My testimony has grown so much here in Texas. I love it and I'm happy!

I love you so much and am grateful for all your support, Mom and Dad.

Hermana Burt

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