I know Dad is always interested to hear about the ward and the members and such, so here's a bit about the Nova YSA Branch...
--It's SMALL! I've never been in a branch before. For those of you who aren't familiar with the lingo, WARDS and BRANCHES are geographical congregations in the church. Wards are bigger...you have wards when there a certain number of church members in an area. You have a branch when there is only a small amount of members. And even though the geographical area of our branch is huge, there aren't that many members of the church between ages 18-30 around here. So our sacrament meetings are always pretty small. I think we have about 30 people in sacrament? Maybe 40. Somethin like that.
--It feels really different being in a YSA branch, especially when compared to my last ward up north. My last ward really did feel like home to me...but I still felt like a missionary. But here it's different. It's like we aren't even missionaries, but we're just regular members of the branch. Because of that, it's easy to get caught up in all the branch drama...who is dating who, who is mad at who, etc. I'm trying to keep myself separated from all of that...
--My first few days here I definitely felt like I was in college again. We live with 2 other sisters, so it's like having a bunch of roommates all over again, I was going to church with people who are all around my same age...yup. Feels a bit like college, especially since most of the people here are students and are always talking about tests and studying and such. Hard to believe that was me just 8 months ago! (Wait...hold up...it's been EIGHT MONTHS?!!? Wowwwww)
--We don't get fed here! By the time I left my old ward, we were getting fed ALL the time. When I left, our fridge was so stuffed with food from members you could hardly find anything. But here....we're surrounded by poor college kids, they don't have money to feed us! So I definitely miss that. We've been eating a lot of fast food. And I also learned when YSA say they want to take you out to lunch, it actually means "we'll meet up at a restuarant and you have to pay for your own food." But I guess I can't complain. We have been fed a few times. One of the members (who is like BFFs with Sis. Holyan) makes us lunch a lot.
--We hardly ever run into Latins here! We knocked into one on Saturday and got to go in and leave a blessing and chat with her, all in Spanish. I realized just how much I love Latins! I loved getting to interact with them in my old ward. I've missed them! I hope I get the chance to serve around them again and really improve my Spanish while I'm out here.
--I still play piano for almost everything. haha. Some things never change.
Had 2 baptisms this weekend, one of them was Nick's. He's awesome! And did I mention he's a Columbian model? Yup.
Also, wanted to share a story about how PINTEREST IS SHARING THE GOSPEL AND CHANGING LIVES! You know me, I loove Pinterest. It's probably good that I don't waste hours on there anymore, though. ;) Anyways, one of our recent converts Lacey is absolutely AMAZING. I just love her to death. But guess what...she found out about the church via Pinterest! She was actually raised Jewish but in college she became converted to Christianity. Over Christmas break she was on Pinterest and she stumbled upon a link to some young women's blog about personal progress. She became really intrigued, found her way onto mormon.org, and spent hours reading conference talks and things on there! Finally a little box popped up and asked if she wanted to meet with missionaries and she said yes. Sooo...the missionaries came to her house and she was baptized a couple weeks later! She's so great. She is so excited about everything she learns. She's already to Mosiah in her Book of Mormon reading and she writes a title for every single page of the Book of Mormon to help her remember what each chapter is about! Super cool.
Well...that's the news around here. Still loving this opportunity I have to serve my Heavenly Father as a missionary, even with all the rough moments. We were talking to a couple of the other sisters yesterday at church...they were having a rough time after getting chewed out in relief society in front of everyone for a miscommunication that occurred (I mentioned earlier that I love Latins. I should also mention that you must NEVER OFFEND ONE! Tell Austin to never miss a food appointment with a member!!!! Although all of the Guatemalans I've met have been really sweet people.). We were also having a bit of a rough time after getting chewed out by a member who doesn't like the way we do missionary work. We were all just talking about how misions are tough...and NOT in the way you think they'll be. Everyone always says "Missions are hard!" but you really have no idea what that means until you actually serve a mission. I'm not sure what I was expecting...but you just have all kinds of situations that you wouldn't have imagined. And then plus you're always exhausted on top of all that. But I really do love being a missionary and I'm excited to start training new missionaries, too! Missions truly are amazing and we really do see miracles all the time. I know I am changing so much and it's cool to see the Atonement work in my life as well as in the lives of those I teach as I also become a new person through Christ.