Well I am now in Vancouver, Washington. As I email you all at this very moment, it is already raining outside. Summer is drawing to a close and the rain is already coming. It is very beautiful here though. It is so green. The city is definitely bigger than little 'ol Dayton. It has been a little difficult getting used to that. What I love is that there are so many people everywhere. I can talk to literally everyone I see, because I have no idea who they are and they probably don't know about the gospel. Its pretty cool. Life as a zone leader is a very humbling experience. I think our phone is almost constantly ringing. We are constantly planning and keeping forms up to date for the Mission, and then on top of all of that we try our best to actually do missionary work. We are very busy. My new companions name is Elder Prawitt. He is from Springville, Utah. He is one of the best missionaries I have ever served with. He actually served for 1 year in Ukraine, but then he had to come home for a bit because of medical reasons and now he has been serving here. He only has 2 transfers left, but we try not to talk about that haha. I am learning a great deal from him. Our zone consists of 18 missionaries. 12 elders and 6 sisters. It is a lot of fun. You get to know everybody in the zone because we are always talking to them. Mostly our role as zone leaders is to help the zone in any way possible. We teach them, encourage them, and unfortunately we have to correct them. That is definitely something I do not like to do. It has never been something that I wanted to do as a missionary, to get mad at someone because they aren't doing the right things, but it is something that needs to be done. I have decided to talk to people instead, figure out why they are breaking the rules, and then follow the spirit from there. Yup, there are a lot of new things for me. I am back in a giant ward. The members are really great though. They are really supportive and love to do missionary work. My mind has just been racing lately trying to remember all of our investigators names, members names, missionaries names, along with what we are doing with all those people. The members that we live with are the Renigers. They are so funny. They are really nice too. We have the whole basement to ourselves. Its pretty good. We have our own bathroom and couch and desks. We even have our own weight set, so maybe I can actually get buff now haha.
Well unfortunately I am in a library now where we only have 1 hour to email so I will have to be somewhat brief. I wanted to tell you about a couple of really cool experiences I had over this last week. Elder Prawitt is big time into tracting. He likes teaching a lot more, but pretty much if we aren't teaching a lesson, we are tracting. Man, I will tract, but it's definitely not my favorite and I like to do others things than that. But we don't have much else to do right now so we have been. We have A LOT of potential investigators. We are setting appointments up with them, but when we show up to teach them, they aren't there. We will sometimes have 5 or 6 lessons in a day and not teach any lesson, because no one is there for our appointment. We try calling them in advance, we try swinging by, writing the appointment down, and still no appointment goes through. It has been pretty hard on us. Thus, we have been tracting when those things go through. So yesterday, once again the person we had an appointment with was not there. So we said a prayer and asked god to direct us as to where we should go. We just started walking. There were some houses that we walked by and Elder Prawitt asked if we should start there. I just didn't feel right about it so we moved on. We are walking and I see a house that looks perfect. I point to the neighborhood and Prawitt says, "That is exactly what I was thinking." So we go and knock on the first door. The lady is completely not interested. So I say to myself, "okay, Heavenly Father has prepared someone here, otherwise I wouldn't have been directed here. That lady is not the person the lord wants us to find right now." And then we move on. We see two guys unloading a truck, so we stop by to see if we can help. We start to talk to them. One of the guys starts talking to us. We asked him how faith in Christ has helped him. We got on a great discussion, where we were able to talk more and more to him about the gospel. The man studies religion a lot. He knows all about the Apostasy and has even studied a little bit about the American Indians and their belief on God. We had such a cool talk with him. We told him about the Book of Mormon and invited him to read it. He said that he definitely would. He was really excited. The only problem is that he is going on a road trip with his family and won't be back until the end of September! Its okay though. We did what the Lord wanted us to do and who knows what Edward (the guy we talked to) is going to do.
The second story I wanted to tell you was about this recent convert family in the ward. They are from Samoa and are one of the greatest families I have ever met. The father, mother, and two younger daughters just recently got baptized. They moved here almost 10 years ago from Samoa. They have 3 sons who lived in Samoa during that time and have only come to America in the past couple of months. They have a great story. Their 3 sons actually joined the church in Samoa and the oldest one is on a mission in the Phillipines. The parents actually came in contact with the missionaries because they saw them walking a long the street and had a question about their sons mission. The first day I met them, they sat me down and told me their conversion story and then said, "You are now part of our family. You are my brother." Well their 2 younger sons are now in America and they come out with us a lot to do missionary work. On Sunday we were at church and the 2nd hour ended. It was a combined meeting with the young men and young women this week so we decided to stay. Eric, the middle son, sits down. I start to talk to him just a little bit. I can tell that he is a little nervous or something is wrong. He says, "Elder Garrick, can I ask you a question? I have wanted to go on a mission my whole life. Today I have a meeting with the Bishop. I just wanted to ask you what has been the hardest part about your mission." I could tell that he was very nervous about the decision that he was about to make. He explained to me how there have been so many things lately that have been trying to keep him from going on a mission. The biggest one was fear. I talked to him about how I felt. I remembered the night that I was set apart as a missionary. I will be honest family, I was really nervous that night because I knew that it was the beginning of a lot of things I was afraid of. When Daniel gave me his tie and tag I had an overwhelming feeling come over me. I knew that I could serve a mission, because my family had too. I talked to Eric about this experience and how his brother was also on a mission doing the exact same things that he would do on his mission. A smile came across his face and he just started to nod. After church he came out with us. The whole rest of the day he was saying, "I am just so excited to go on my mission. I can not wait." While he was with us he helped teach and bore a strong testimony on faith in Jesus Christ. It was great.
Those are my two stories for the week. Teaching has been really different lately. These new missionary lessons are really, really, really, focused on teaching investigators and not lesson's. It requires that you love, listen to both the investigator and the spirit, and know the doctrine of the gospel very well. Elder Prawitt seems like an expert at this right now and he has been helping me to understand how to do it as well. The missionary lessons are no longer teaching a set lesson, they are talking to an investigator, getting to know who they are and what they want, what they believe in, helping them come closer to Christ. Every single lesson will always be different. Its amazing. Tonight from 6 - 9 pm we have 6 lessons. 5 of those lessons are with people we have never taught before. We have so many people to teach tonight that we are going to have to split up and go with another priesthood holder in the ward. It will be an amazing experience though. I am so excited for this next transfer and the things that I am about to learn. The week has definitely not been easy, but man has it been fun. I hope everyone is doing well. I love you all so much.