Pictures! For you! I am sorry that it took me so long to respond to you. It has been crazy getting everything taken care of, but I am finally here in Tallahassee where I am supposed to be, and I am loving it. Let me share my little experience that I had in the airport. So our call time to the travel office on the day that we were to leave was at 8 am, which is when we were to catch a shuttle on the airport for our flight. Guess when our flight left. 11:59 pm that day. We were sitting in the airport for 15 hours, and it was jsut fantastic. We got a lot of studying in, many LDS families took pity on us and offered to buy us lunch and just talked with us forever. It was a bit of a long day, but I am convinced that we were supposed to be there for a reason. We were sitting at our table, studying our language and gospel materials quite studiously, when an elderly lady came up to ask and just started to speak to us in Portuguese. Honestly, I am convinced that we were there for a reason, because she just needed help to call her daughter on the phone, and I can imagine how frustrating it might be to be surrounded by people who don't understand what you are trying to ask. I am not sure what it was that prompted the woman to come speak with us, but we were there and able to help her. Her daughter soon arrived, and though the encounter was quick, I was so happy for the opportunity to serve.
Speaking of speaking Portuguese, do you want to hear something fantastic? And that was not sarcastic, this is actually turning out to be one of the coolest things about my mission so far. So when we first got here, we were assigned to our areas in the mission by President Jensen (I will tell you about him later). So we are getting our assignments to go out and about in Florida, Alabama, and Georgia, and guess where I get called to: The Liahona Branch. Spanish Speaking. I have been studying Portuguese for six weeks, and then I get called to a Spanish speaking branch. There aren't any Portuguese speakers around here, but I at least assumed that I would be speaking and teaching in English. Nope. Espan-yol.
I have included a picture of what my study materials look like. I currently have three sets of scriptures and three Preach My Gospels, one set for each language. I don't really use the English ones though. My morning personal study is done in Portuguese, I pray in Portuguese, and so on. But all my language study is devoted to Spanish. Crazy, huh?! I am not sure if I will be able to speak Spanish fluently, because I am not sure how long that I am going to be here, but my goal is to at least be able to understand what people are speaking to me and be able to respond. Not gonna lie, it was extremely hard the first couple days, but I am basically just relying on the Lord for everything, and it is going fine. Like I said, I don't know if I will ever speak Spanish fluently, but the Lord knows what is going to happen, so I am just going to do everything that I can to get there. If I don't, he knows what is best.
So about my mission president and his wife, President and Sister Jensen. When we arrived at the mission home, I seriously felt like I was stepping into Forrest Gump. It was crazy. Super nice home, we spent our first night there. It was me, a few friends from my MTC district including Elder Young and good old Elder Beckstrom. I am going to send Tanner a letter, but just so you know as well, the mission that Tanner is going to actually borders my current one, and the area that Josh is in is directly next to Tanner's mission. They are actually going to move Elder Beckstrom's area from my mission to Tanner's, so if Elder Beckstrom is there long enough, he will get to move into the Macom Georgia Mission. Super exciting.
My companions are great. I am in a trio because I am a visa-waiter, so that when I leave they will still have a full companionship. Elder Correa was born in Mexico, and doesn't speak a ton of English, but he lived in Ocala, Florida for part of his life. Elder Swarts is from Draper, Utah! He lives in Steeplechase, and has been here for about 21 months. Super crazy how small the world is. He actually dated Lauren Sonntag, but...not anymore. There is actually a pretty funny story behind that, which I will have to tell you when I have less things to talk about.
I didn't realize when I was coming into Florida that there would be so many trees! I am basically living in a swamp, and I freaking love it. Some of the nicer homes here have grass, but mostly people let whatever they want just grow in their yards. People's backyards just look like backcrounty, with big trees and lots of green. Its a great place to be.
I have already written a lot, and don't want you to get sick of reading, so I will stop there. I will give you some details about some of our investigators soon.
Love you all, and it is always great to hear from you!
Elder Jon Hendrik Vawdrey
Other pictures Elder Vawdrey sent: