Transfers were crazy- all sorts of changes! It's interesting to see the different perspective that President Ballard brings to the mission. A lot of really crazy switches: disobedient elders getting out of leadership positions, junior companions becoming zone leaders, white washes, etc. We did lose our set of sister missionaries, but they both went to my old areas! It was weird, but they'll do good in West Linn and Aloha. Elder Ah Kuoi and Elder Moore (the elders I served with in West Linn) took over the sister's apartment and are now solely in the Tongan Branch recently formed in the area! It's awesome, we go do laundry at their place just like good ol' times. It's really nice, but it’s Elder Moore's last six weeks, so it's awakens me to the idea that I'll be home soon (which is weird). I am also jealous because the Tongan Branch is the most coveted area in the mission- it's sweet! They're learning to speak Tongan, because all their meetings and church activities are in Tongan. The elders ate a whole roasted pig for dinner the other day. Just things like that, it's sweet.
Unfortunately, they aren't in my district, because of a Samoan elder that came into the mission this transfer. He speaks FOB English (meaning "Fresh Off the Boat"). He can barely get by, so they put the Tongan elders in their district, so Elder Ah Kuoi (who is also Samoan) can help him with the language issues. Too bad, but it’s still awesome, because they live down the street from us, so we're going to spend Mondays doing stuff.
I am not surprised when people come back early from their missions anymore. It seems pretty common. I can understand some of the frustration anxiety/depression can cause. I don't really feel like I've been a stranger to it. It can be hard, definitely.
With the sisters gone, it's been nice to have more people in the teaching pool. We've got a lot more less-active/returning members to meet with. We're also meeting with this woman who is like the epitome of Portland! The sister missionaries tracted into her, and our visit was so... well, weird. We weeded for 45 minutes, she brought us gifts from the beach (clam shells, crabs, and some sea barnacles organized to make a little garden inside the shell), and we made clam chowder while we talked about the gospel!
There's some good things, but the reality of it is we need to get out there and start finding more people. Tyson Haddon used an analogy early on in my mission that I liked (he shared it with me in an email) that missionary work is like finding aces in a deck of cards: you just have to keep flipping cards until you find the aces. So likewise, we just need to get more creative with our finding (using Facebook, working with members), but ultimately just hitting the pavement and talking with people. So that's what the area's challenges are right now: finding people to teach. Other wards in the area are doing great though! They are rocking it, and it's awesome! I have a few baptismal interviews to do in the coming weeks (one of which is tonight). We have a sister training in one of the wards, and Elder Meredith and his companion are a great duo and they've seen great success together this past week!
Besides that, getting college things figured out has been a majority of my day. I finished most of the BYU and USU applications. Now it's just getting transcripts, ACT scores, etc. Also an ecclesiastical endorsement from the mission president. It wouldn't let me apply for the Spring 2015 semester, and I couldn't figure out whether or not I have to wait to apply or what. USU let me apply for the Spring 2015 semester. Does SLCC have a similar application process? I imagine it's probably easier than the bigger universities. Either way, hopefully I can get this all out of the way quickly. I'd probably be able to deal with like financial aide and housing after I get accepted and get home, right?
What kind of a class is "discrete structures"..? Well, for the average person Ben’s classes sound a bit.. dry? Technical writing and trig will probably be the least exciting. I assume discrete structures is like a computer-based class (unless they offer really off-the-wall architectural classes and Ben decided to try it out for kicks and giggles).
Well, it's exciting to think that school is starting soon. Silas' last year of high school, that's what's crazy to me! I am excited to go camping again, I was thinking about that since the letter last week. I miss being outdoors, and not feeling the pressure of "How long will it take us to get back? When's our dinner appointment?" when I am out hiking, etc.
I'm sure things will work themselves out. Kayleigh will do great at whichever tennis event she does (singles or doubles) and Silas will figure out how to string his boots. I am excited to hear how everything goes!
Well, I love you guys. Hope all is well.
-Elder Samuel A. Burge