Monday, February 16, 2015

Great Living at 10,200'

Whelp, it's cold.

This week has been ca-razy! So many changes, so many new people and new places! On Tuesday we headed to Grand Junction for transfer meeting, where my new assignment was disclosed-- Frisco, Colorado. It's an English ward, but a Spanish area in the mission because of all of the hispanics that live here. In fact, this is the same area that my trainer, Elder Curth, served in as a Spanish missionary in 2012 right before he went to Ken Caryl and Coalmine, my greenie area! But anywho, I boarded the transfer train and drove (they always make me drive) aaalllllll the way to Denver. I met my new companion, Elder Garcia, at the mission office at about 7:30pm. Then we got a ride from the Vail Elders aaaallll the way back to Frisco. I'm serving as the district leader in a district of three companionships- two sets of Spanish Elders and one set of English Elders. It's called the Mountain District. We live in a little one-room apartment with a loft above a member's welding shop in Silverthorne. We hear some sweet country tunes coming through the walls during language study. Here in the Frisco ward, we cover the towns of Frisco, Breckenridge, Silverthorne, Dillon, Kaystone, and Leadville. And we don't have a car. The Elder I replaced here got into an accident, so our truck is currently in the shop. Luckily, though, Summit County (our area) has a great free public transportation system!

And man, let me tell you about riding those busses. There are ski bums everywhere. Like, tons of them. They're all guys in their twenties who move to the Rocky Mountains for snowboarding and legal marijuana. They all have facial hair (and it's rarely impressive), and some of them even have pony tails. It's uhhh..... different. And then we see vacationists all the time!! People come up to the resorts or to their mountain homes or cabins here and going skiing! There are always people and families on the bus, toting along their skis or snowboard, with their goggles on their head, ready to shred the slopes! That seems to make up most of the population here. People visiting the mountains, and people working at the resorts that the other people stay at.

On Wednesday we had an interesting experience... We got a ride from a member to Leadville, where Elder Garcia tells me most of our investigators are. When we entered the town, I say a big sign that says, "We [heart] Leadville! Great Living @ 10,200'!" That's some elevation for ya. The most memorable lesson we had that day was with a couple of young men named Jesse and Cole. They're roommates who share a trailer and work at a ski resort. Other than that, they like to snowboard and smoke marijuana. We started teaching them about the Restoration of the Gospel, and then they just pulled out a bong and started going at it. I'll have to say, that's a first. (I think. That might have happened in Denver once, but I can't remember...) Anyway, it was pretty dumb. But then we kept teaching them and set a date for them to be baptized on March 21st. We're trying to give everyone a baptismal date on the first lesson now. Hopefully they can make it! They'll obviously have to make a few changes...

On Thursday we had an appointment with a guy we met at the bus stop named Bronson. We had met him the day before, and he said we could stop by his place on Thursday night to teach him. The only problem was that he lives in Keystone, which is a little less than an hour by bus from us. So we got on the 6:00pm bus to make our 7:00pm appointment. We went and knocked on the door to the address he gave us, and we asked the guy who answered if Bronson was home. Bronson didn't live there. So, stellar. We got a fake address. We were about to leave, but then we decided to ask the guy who answered the door if we could share a message with him. He said, "Sure!" Turns out he was visiting from Peru, and that might have something to do with why he was so open. Anyway, his name is Diego. He's here working at the resort in Keystone for the season. We taught him the Restoration, and he mentioned that he had a friend on a mission in Argentina. We also set a baptismal date for March 21st with him. The biggest problem with most of the people here will be getting them to church. And I imagine quitting the whacky tabacky will be a struggle for some as well.

Anyway, on Thursday night, while we were on the bus to Keystone, I was just taken away by how awesome this area is! As the bus pulled into the Keystone resort, I could see the mountain all lit up for night-skiing. Outside the front of the resort there was a frozen pond with people, big and small, quick and wobbly, ice skating. All of the buildings there had lights trimming the outside, but not really in a Christmas-y way, just in a wintery way. Then we passed a restaurant that advertised a live band, and it just seemed like a really awesome vacation experience! I'm sure it's paradise for people who like winter sports.

On Friday, I was struggling to stay awake during my personal study at 8am. I think all of the walking without the car, and the sudden huge rise in altitude were taking a toll on my body. I had my pen out, ready to mark, as I read my Book of Mormon. Every time I would drift off to sleep for a second my hand would fall and make a little line on the page. I counted at least five marks on the page after I was done. The struggle was real.

We've taught a couple of good lessons in Spanish since I've been here. Elder Garcia is not a native Spanish-speaker. He was called to the mission speaking English, and then got switched after his first transfer. This is his fourth transfer. So he's been out a little more than four months. He, like Elder Smith and Elder Baker, was trained in Spanish by a native speaker. So he kind of got drowned out and frustrating trying to learn the language. But Elder Smith, who was his District Leader last transfer, told him that I would be able to help him a ton with his Spanish. (Gee, no pressure.) But luckily it has been a good experience. I think mostly he just needed confidence, and a tutor who could understand his struggles, and who could explain the reasons behind why certain things are said a certain way. We had dinner at a Spanish-speaking member's house last night, and Elder Garcia and I were speaking Spanish to her. She asked me how long I'd been on my mission, and I told her, "About twenty months." Then she turned to Elder Garcia and said, "See, that'll be you in twenty months." We didn't bother telling her that my first sixteen months were in English. I think it's kind of funny, because I'm sure I'm not that good at Spanish compared to someone who served their mission in South America... But whatever, I do what I can with what I've got. Anyway, I can already see Elder Garcia's Spanish improving little by little.

On Saturday we helped a less-active old lady move some of her stuff to the dump. She's a hoarder (according to her own confession), and she's trying to clean out her house. We had to start my shoveling all of the snow out of her truck bed, then by breaking up the ice that was holding some lawn maintenance equipment in place so we could open the garage. So much snow. So much ice.
We can do Hard things! (Sorry it's sideways :/)
We loaded up a bunch of stuff and then headed off to the dump. After we had unloaded everything, we drove by an only upright piano that someone had dumped! It was in perfect working order! Only the high C was a dud and the keys weren't as ivory-ish as they ought to have been. It was even in tune! I played a couple of tunes on it, and then left it there, despite the promptings from Sister Bradford to find a way to take it home. I don't think we're allowed to have pianos.

On Sunday we got to church, and I saw someone I recognized! The Bishop from the Coal Mine ward, Bishop Jensen, has a house up in the mountains, and they attend the Frisco ward whenever they make weekend trips! His wife and three of his sons were there (he wasn't). But it was great to see them and catch up a little bit. Sister Jensen said the ward has changed drastically since I left. She said one in every three of the strong, active families has moved out, and some stopped coming, and a few who never came before started showing up! She had good things to say about Sister Remmington from my MTC district, who finished her mission in that ward a couple of months ago. Our sacrament meeting in Frisco was packed with visiting President's Day weekend skiers. We had a small chapel, and there were about 200 people or so in attendance. Then Elder Garcia and I taught a bilingual Sunday School class, and I got to teach the Elders' Quorum. Our Elders' Quorum President and his family, the Havens', are converts of about three or four years, and they really love the missionaries. They're great.

That's the low down on what's going on way up here in the Rocky Mountains! So mountainy. So snowy. It's great. Elder Smith is my zone leader! So that's really cool. He says he doesn't like working with only white people (I can't blame him), but I think he'll do awesome things as a zone leader. I know the Church is true, and that we have a living prophet on the earth! What a huge blessing! I love you all, and send my warmest winter wishes your way! Be excellent to each other!

Elder Rogers

A Thought from Mom:

President Joseph Fielding Smith “used three great words that I can never forget,” recalled President Gordon B. Hinckley. Those words were “true and faithful.” President Hinckley said, “In his public addresses, in his private conversation, in his prayers to the Lord, he pleaded that we might be true and faithful.”1 President Thomas S. Monson shared a similar memory: “Even in his advanced years, [he] always prayed, ‘May we be true and faithful to the end.’”

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