Thanks so much for the great email! I love hearing updates from home.
Here are some answers to those questions. When I first came out, we had 10 stakes. Then we lost a stake to the Yakima mission. Then we lost another stake that dissolved in Portland. Then we picked up the Ridgefield stake. So that makes 9 now. The missionaries pretty much just keep doing missionary work and we figure out the rest later.
I don't really know why this zone meeting wasn't as stressful. Maybe it has to do with the fact that Elder Stevens and I are the oldest missionaries here. I also felt like we got a lot of good material from President Taylor so that made it easier.
President Taylor is still doing well. His recovery time is 3-5 weeks. I just can't picture him sitting around for that long. We will see what happens.
Here is a weather update. It has poured rain for the last four or five days. Even the locals are impressed. The reason I don't use an umbrella is kind of funny. There is a missionary in the mission that is as serious as they come. He has never even cracked a smile or laughed at anything and his trademark is his umbrella. He goes everywhere with that thing and he takes it so seriously that umbrellas have become a no-no. However, I have a hood and a hat that keeps me perfectly dry.:) Today was gorgeous. Best day out here so far. Sunny and 60. elder Stevens and I went to the beach and threw a baseball around and we had a good time.
Physically I'm feeling great. I exercise almost every morning and a lot on P-days. The members feed us every night so that's good. elder Stevens loves fast food (and so do I) so we make sure that we keep that going. It has become our Friday tradition. So far, I have avoided sickness. Hopefully that continues. Mentally and spiritually I am also doing well. Elder Stevens and I challenge each other all the time on the Rubik's cube so I don't know if that counts for anything. Also for whatever reason, I have a lot more time to study than I have the last few transfers so that has been a huge boost. So, of course I'm happy! We have a blast. We have had so many funny moments that I just can't explain to you. We were talking about how we wish we could have a camera recording all the time so everybody can know what we do. Like the other night... we walked out of dinner and there was a guy walking away from us. So we flagged him down and started talking to him. I asked him a question and he literally just chugged his entire beer can in front of us and then told us that his beliefs go way before the Middle East and then he walked away. It was really funny, actually... weird. Those kind of moments happen all the time.
We found a GOLDEN Spanish family yesterday. Absolutely golden. At least that's what Elder Stevens said. I couldn't understand our conversation. HaHa. It was awesome, though. One guy has already read the Book of Mormon and he knows it is true. He was explaining to the rest of his family how Lehi and Nephi built a boat and came to America and they they had the Liahona to guide them. They all wanted their own copy of the Book of Mormon. There are five of them living in the apartment and they are all really interested. I am excited to go back. Also the Spanish sisters in our ward are having a baptism on the 13th of February. She will be the first Spanish member in Astoria so that will be cool. It will be awesome to go back and visit Astoria when there is a Spanish ward (it is going to take a while) and I will be able to remember when there wasn't a single member and how we were called to start one up.
We had stake conference this weekend. We went to the adult session on Saturday night. There were 6 talks and every single one of them was about missionary work. Some were really good and others not so much, but this stake is ready to baptize. Then our stake president got up there and announced that he found a job in Kennewick and that he is moving on Monday. That shocked a lot of people. Imagine if President Kunz got up there and said that. There were a lot of tears shed. It will be a big change for the stake, but we will move on. A new stake president will be called in a few weeks.
We got to watch a worldwide broadcast on Wednesday to all of the missionaries. They just taught us the doctrine and it was really good. I learned a lot about how to be a better missionary and what my purpose is. We were taught by general authorities including Elder Bednar, Elder Anderson, and Elder Oaks. I though some crazy announcement was going to be made, but they just reminded us of what wee are to do and to go out and do it.
So on Thursday night, it was pouring rain and Elder Stevens and I were walking along the sidewalk. Like my clumsy self, I rolled my ankle off the side. My hands were in my pocket and they flew up immediately, bringing the phone. The phone landed right in a puddle. We did all we could to save it, but it was ruined. I thought about why God allows stuff like that to happen. The chances of that happening are not likely. It created a pretty big inconvenience for us and it was a distraction for the rest of the weekend. Here are some possibilities...
1. god had nothing to do with it at all. He can't help the fact that I can't walk down the sidewalk without stumbling (I'm fine by the way)
2. He figured my life was going way too good and easy and He figured He should do something to make it hard.
3. Satan stuck his leg out and tripped me on purpose because he knew we were going to use the phone to set up an appointment with somebody that was going to get baptized.
4. Here is what I really think. God wanted to be extra sure that I knew that He is the one responsible for the salvation of His children. He can do His work without a phone. If He needed to, He could do His work without me. I'm so thankful to be a part of it.
5. Of course who really knows? Haha
Thanks again so much for the great email. Thank you for the updates as well. I love you all so much and I hope you have a great week.