Greetings from Astoria! Things here have been pretty crazy this week. It rained so so so hard forever this week. I have never seen anything like it. So many companionships were just flooded in so they couldn't get out. The worst was a landslide that wrecked the I-5. They had to close it down and that was a huge problem for us. It happened just north of Vancouver and that is the way we go home. That happened on Wednesday and we had a meeting in Vancouver on Thursday. Getting there was fine, but coming back was a problem. There was another way to get home down through Portland and up through Scappoose that we took. The only problem with that is every single person in the northwest that needed to get north of Vancouver took the same route. That included every semi-truck, too. So we left Vancouver at about 1:30 and got to a city called St. Helens at around 7:30. That drive usually takes about an hour. So of course my Tetonia instincts kicked in and I I decided to take some back roads! Haha. The only problem was that I wasn't in Tetonia! So we went off on an adventure. We were cruising through on this road when we saw a bunch of flashing lights. There was a huge truck that wrecked right up ahead and a bunch of people were working on cleaning it up and they had no idea how long we were going to have to wait. We were seriously thinking of going back to St. Helens and spending the night in the church. There was no way we were going back to Vancouver. We had to wait for about 2 1/2 hours before they finally got everything cleared. So we were driving down this unfamiliar road all by ourselves without cell phone service late at night and all the time we were seeing road closed signs all the time. I was praying pretty hard! We ended up home at around 11:30, but we make it home through the back roads. Two other companionships had to turn around. It was a good feeling to get out of the car. From the time we spent in the car, I could've almost made it to Tetonia! And today was the first day that it stopped raining since I got here. It has been an eye opener for me.
I got the Christmas packages. I got yours and a few others. And yes, they will forward my mail all the way out here. :-)
So here are some details about Astoria (I asked him if it was like Passamaquaddy from Pete's Dragon. That is all I can picture!) The population is about 10,000 people.It is a super touristy town. There are also a lot of fishermen. It is honestly kind of dead in the winter. It is beautiful here. It is located on a hill right where the Columbia drains into the Pacific Ocean. This is the place where Lewis and Clark finished their expedition. There are also some pretty different people here, even more so than Portland. Remind me to tell you some stories when we Skype.
So I think Elder Stevens was destined to come here and be my companion in the pre-mortal life! Our first conversation was about how we could do a fantasy football league but mission style. We talked about drafting missionaries, the point system, tanking, the whole thing. It was sweet! He loves all sports, especially baseball. We have talked for hours about it and it has been great. We've also got good things going in our area, too. We are starting a Spanish group here in Astoria. So Elder Stevens and two Spanish speaking sisters just got assigned to the Astoria ward to start it up. So I get to just listen while elder Stevens talks to people in Spanish. It is a different experience. I don't think I clarified this, but we do English work too, so I"m not at a total disadvantage. I just thought about what it says in my patriarchal blessing. It says that I will be able to learn another language on my mission. So English speaking in Washington kind of confused me. But here I am helping start up a Spanish group. I am picking up on a lot of Spanish, too. I can pretty much follow a conversation. I know that God remembers what He said in my blessing and He always keeps His promises. I have a testimony of that.
So I prayed and fasted last week that I would be able to adjust to the transition well. Heavenly Father came through. We had a stake correlation meeting on Sunday with Elder Call (the Area 70) President Taylor, President Waite (the stake president) and others. We showed up to our apartment and all of the information that we needed was gathered and collected and ready to go. It ended up being a really good meeting, too. Then normally we would have a zone meeting to plan for, but President Taylor came out and said no meetings until January. So that was another thing that made the transition smoother. I'm so thankful that Heavenly Father is aware of me and my needs. I know that He is always willing to help me out, even if it is small stuff.
It sounds like things are still going great at home. That's cool that you got to see Elder Brown's sister. The connections are amazing. I hope that the basketball season continues to go well. Nice job on sharing time, mom. That is pretty creative. Also thanks for sharing Grandma Hart's story about stake conference. That is another example of how much Heavenly Father is aware of us.
Thanks so much for the email I am loving this time of year on the mission. I can't wait to Skype next week. Yeah, definitely think of some questions for me and I will do the same for you.l It seems like there is so much to talk about and then I just freeze when you come on the screen! Ha! I love you a lot and I hope you have a great week.
1. There are deer roaming around Astoria everywhere.
2. Overlook of Astoria and the Long Beach bridge.
3. The Oregon wilderness
1. Elder Stevens outside our duplex
2. How I felt this last week
3. Me on top of the "Astoria column"