Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Santa Ana

Dear Fam,
I know that I talked to you on friday but it seems like forever ago! How is everyone doing? I'm doing so good right now. These past couple days have been crazy! I have done so much stuff. Thanks so much for your emails mom and Dad. Dad- I'm sorry you werent feeling the greatest. I hope that you get feeling better. Thats awesome that robby is going to tahiti! That will be awesome. Also thanks for the pin. I'm glad to hear that your first days were hard- because friday night and saturday and part of sunday was really hard. But im doing lots better. Its always a reassurance that I'm doing the right thing. Mom- Thats awesome that you talked to Elder Thornes mom! He is so awesome. I do miss him. I hope that he is doing good. That will be fun to visit with them. He should be in Alaska by now.
I guess I'll just start telling you about the last 4 days. So we got to the airport and the assistants and President Bowen and his wife picked us up. They are seriously so nice. They took us out to lunch and we got to take a nap after. It was much needed. Then we met our new companions. I am in a threesome with Elder Smith from Sandy and Elder Arevalo from El Salvador. They are both so awesome!! I got so lucky to get this awesome of trainers. Elder Smith has been out a year so he knows alot. Elder Arevalo has been out 23 months so he knows everything. I have learned ALOT in the last 4 days. But i still feel like i'm never going to be able to learn everything that i need to do. At first I wasnt sure how happy i would be here. But now i know that I am going to be way happy. It is so pretty here. And the people are awesome. I really don't care how long I stay here because I like it so much, even though its hard. I know the Lord wants me to be here. Pres Bowen told me to watch every little thing that Elder Arevalo does. He is so amazing. I mean his name is even Nefi ( which is Nephi in spanish). He is so humble. The first night I didnt have a bed. But he insisted that I have the bed so that I could get a good night sleep. When I got out of the shower, Elder Smith had made me a big bowl of oatmeal with bananas in it. How did I get so lucky? Every second they were and are just trying to help me. Its incredible. I really hope I can become like them. Also Elder Arevalo is the most obedient missionary ever I'm sure. With everything. he is such a good example. He loves how tall I am. He's always laughing when i have to duck to get through doors or When the little kids at church were telling me how tall I am. Let me tell you a little bit about our apartment. Its way pretty outside! There are lots of palm trees and there is a little river that runs through the apartments. It is called Cinnamon Creek Apartments or something. The inside isnt quite as nice as the outside ha ha. But its so fun. The shower hits me about at my sternum. To shower I just get on my knees ha ha. I have found myself on my knees alot lately. And it really helps. Im so grateful for the power of prayer. I know that all of our prayers are answered in one way or another. Church was awesome. I passed the sacrament. It was kinda frustrating because I cant understand anything. People just talk so fast. But just about everyone speaks english here also. My first night in the field, we visited a less active member. I bore my testimony. It was really cool. I can definitely feel the spirit helping me when I teach. Also that night I did some street contacts. This guy was completely drunk. He asked us if we wanted to come in and have a drink and talk about God ha ha. It was great. I wish everyone was drunk all the time so they would talk a little slower. Saturday was awesome. There is this new program for new missionaries. Everyday instead of 1 hour of companionship study you do 2. I really enjoy it. I feel like im learning alot. Also in the first week when you're new as part of the program, it is the new missionaries job to extend the baptismal invitation. So... Saturday we were teaching Maria and her son Jose ( None of us really know the investigators that well because Elder Arevalo and Elder Smith have only been companions for 6 days in this area). Anysways we taught Jose and Maria saturday night. They have been seeing the missionaries for about 4 months. I gave them the baptismal invitation and they said yes! They are gettting baptized the 9th of october. It was so amazing. The spirit truley helped me out so they could understand me for one, and help them know that it was true. It was awesome. This week its the "new missionary's" ( they want to get rid of the term greenie ha ha) job to lead into the first lesso and do the baptismal covenant. So tonight i'll have 3 opportunities to do that. I'm way excited. Actually mainly nervous but thats ok. Sometimes Elder Arevalo and Elder Smith will just stop talking and just look at me during the lessons. I just have to try and listen to the spirit and just talk because I don't know what the heck is going on. People talk so fast!!  Today we played soccer and baksetball as a Zone. Geez people act like they have never seen someone that is good at basketball before. Have these people watched the NBA? Our zone is mostly from south america so I think thats why. Today I had to use my debit card to go shopping because I don't get my own card here since I am not a temperate missionary. Elder Arevalo just gets extra money loaded on his card but the office hasnt loaded it yet. It was fun to go shopping though. The fruit here is so good! Some members just have orange trees and lemon trees. Its awesome. So the address for our mission is 2500 N Bristol St, Santa Ana CA 92706. That is the office. All the mail and packages are sent there and the zone leaders give it to you once a week. Have you gotten my package that Elder thorne sent yet? I bet you havent they kinda take a while to get there. I am really wishing that I would have brought a third bag. Like how we talked about just getting a small one to carry on. Thats 50 more pounds of stuff! That would be way nice. Plus they let you bring that and a back pack on the plane i think. Do you think I should buy one here? or do you think you could send me one? I don't really know what to do. I'll just wait til next monday to hear back from you. Do you think that you could send me a digital watch? I know thats alot to ask for, but it gets really dark here fast and I can never see mine. But i could just buy one at target also. I'll just wait to hear back from you ha ha. Oh yes I can print out these emails. I think that I'll do that and just keep them in a binder. Santa Ana is pretty sweet. All the mexicans have there sweet cars that go up and down. It's hilarious. Santa Ana is kinda scary though. There is a few places we cannot go. But There has never been anything bad happen. The Lord watches out for you.
I heard that this is the second most populated vietnamese place in the world. The first being vietnam. They are everywhere! And they drive crazy. Elder Arevalo is like a grandma behind the wheel. Just about everyone has cars in our mission. It is way nice. I need to appreciate that while i have it. Anyways I spear we are getting cut off like every second. Elder Arevalo is always saying " Chinitos Locos!" Crazy asians ha ha. He is so funny. He is actually way good at Enlish. But he still says some funny stuff. He is so patient with me. Every lesson he can do it 100 times better than I can but he lets me so that I can learn. I can just really tell that he loves me. and all of our investigadors.
Well i don't know how long I'm going to be here, but I'm loving (just about) every minute of it :). I'm learning so much. I love you all so much. Thank you so much for everything you do for me. You are the greatest family in the whole world!
Love Riley

Friday, September 23, 2011

California here I come!!!!

We got a surprise call from Riley on Thursday afternoon.  He had just been informed by the MTC Travel Office that his visa hadn't arrived and instead of leaving for Argentina on Monday as originally planned he is headed to Anaheim California Friday morning.  We got to talk to him this morning while he was at the airport.  He sounded GREAT!  It was so good to talk to him.  He is having a great attitude about being in California.  The Travel Office said it could be a few days or a month before his visa comes in.  Then, this afternoon we received the following email and picture: 

Hello everyone!
Well I made it to California! The plane ride was great. It is so weird to be in the real world. We met our President, President Brad Bowen. Attached is a picture of him and his wife plus the people we traveled with. You will never believe this.. He is Brother Bowens first cousin! Sweet huh?  He is the most loving guy ever. I know that Im going to love it here. He is so awesome! Right now we're at the mission home. We get our new companions tonight. I will be teaching in spanish so thats good. There are only 4 spanish speaking missionaries here. Anaheim is the 2nd smallest mission in the world but has 7 languages. President bowen says that my trainer is the very best missionary in the entire mission. This is his last trainer. I'm very lucky. I cant wait to meet him. Plus he isnt from the united states. But he does speak a little english. Well i gotta go. I love you guys! I don't know when p day is  but i think its monday. I guess we'll see.
I love you all so much! I'm kinda nervous but reall excited. Cant wait to see what the Lord has instore for me here.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Departure Date!

Riley had another great week!  He was given an estimated departure date for Argentina of September 26th.  And while he has loved the MTC he is starting to get anxious for the next phase of his mission - real missionary work. 

Olivia sent a special package to Riley this past week.  While eating a tootsie roll she lost a filing in one of her baby teeth and the dentist suggested pulling it out - which he did.  Olivia decided that she would rather send it to Riley than put it under her pillow for the tooth fairy who has been less than reliable the past few years.  Riley was surprised to get this special present from Olivia and his only suggestion was "..you need to brush those teeth of yours"!

Riley sent Joseph and Olivia Spanish CTR rings.  Instead of CTR they have HLJ on them.  According to Riley: "In Spanish the saying is "Haz la Justo" or Do the Just!  So much cooler than ingles.  Also what makes it cool is "Haz" is the command form of hacer - to do.  So, the ring is like commanding us to do the just.  I really think it's cool.  Enjoy!"

Jana has enjoyed sending packages to Riley.  Some of the things she has sent:  bottled peaches (one of his favorites), a homemade apple pie (another favorite), chocolate chip cookies (a favorite too), a huge box full of an assortment of snacks which Riley reports his whole district has thouroughly enjoyed.  Speaking of his district here are some pictures he sent of his district and his companion Elder Thorne:

Riley shared the following about a difficult experience his companion had this past week:

"Ok well, last saturday something really hard happened. It was really hard for Elder Thorne, and even me. But we are doing well. Last saturday we were playing beach volleyball as a district. When gym time was over we started walking back when this man stopped elder thorne and brought him aside. Immediately I could tell that something was wrong. I could just feel it. After they talked for about 5 minutes they came over to me. The man told me that Elder Thornes best friend Tommy had died. Tommy is LDS and went to school with Elder Thorne. He had some crazy heart attack, Elder Thornes dad who is a heart surgeon worked on him, but couldnt bring him back. I have only known Elder THorne for 6 weeks but I feel like I have known him forever. My stomach just sunk. I felt like one of my friends just died. We went back to our room and ate some icecream, and peaches ( thank goodness we still had a bottle :) ). It was really hard. Our branch president came and talked with us and then we gave him a blessing."

Later that day Elder Thorne asked Riley to give him a blessing.  Riley shared an amazing testimony of the influence of the Holy Ghost and the power of the Priesthood.  This was a difficult experience for the two of them but they have both been blessed to get through it. 

Thank you for all of your prayers on Riley's behalf.  He is truly being blessed.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Half way done (with the MTC)!!!

Hello my AMAZING family!

I just want to start out this email by saying how much I love you all! I do! I’m so incredibly lucky to have each and every one of you. Thanks for the chocolate package last week! Wow I love it! So do lots of other people. And the giant package,. WOW! That’s so heavy. The little mail lady could hardly pick it up. Thank you! I love you guys so much. I can't say it enough. Thanks! Thanks for supporting me while im out here. I love you guys so much. Thanks for financially supporting me. I couldn’t do any of this without you. Dad i love the pictures! It only took like 1 minute to look so keep sending them! Alex you look awesome!!! That’s so cool! I love how they named the little guy spiker. I really do ha ha.

I cant lie, the past 2 days have been kinda hard. Number one, i think its because our teachers are different so its hard to have change. Ill talk about that later. And number two, I really just miss you all. It has hit me that I’m not coming home for awhile. But I know i can do it. I just got back from the temple. E.T. and I did a sealing with this couple that was probably 106 years old. It was awesome. I feel so at peace right now. The temple is truly the best place in the world to be right now. I know i am being blessed and I CAN feel your prayers. I really can. THANK YOU!!! Ya know as much as I'd love to go to Utah State right now and come home every week for Sunday dinner or meet you mom at some place for lunch, or go to BYU with Mckenna, I know im doing the right thing. I know it. This is such a great experience. I love missionary work. Well i think i do, The MTC is not missionary work ha ha.

So about our teachers. We got new ones this Monday. The first day was excellent! We all really liked them and had a great time. One of them is named sister Alvarez, she is about 24. the other one is named Brother UrQuhart. he just got off his mission 3 months ago. So I feel like he is one of us. So that is good. But they teach way different. For example. Our old teachers taught us the ENTIRE day in Spanish, I mean if we didnt understand at all we would do it in English, but pretty much all Spanish. And that is the inspired curriculum designed by the apostoles. These new teachers do zero Spanish.. But they say that its important to learn how to teach before you learn Spanish. So I do believe that. I think I have learned a lot. Sister Alvarez has really showed me a new way to pray. I feel that my relationship with my Father in Heaven is getting so much stronger. I have had some awesome prayers and really received some inspiration. Our new teachers main focus is love. They want us to love. And it is really pretty amazing.. I have noticed a difference. I believe that our actions and countenance speaks louder than our words. If i love the people of Argentina with all my might, the spirit will do the rest. That’s the way the savior did it. So iäm really focusing on loving. I try to talk to every missionary i see in the lunch line. I need to get better at opening my heart to people. I’m really praying for that right now. So the next day was kinda a disaster with our teachers. Something i dont like is they have our whole district teach at the same time. 8 missionaries teaching one of them. and they make us teach in English! I know its good, but I have my doubts.. Their old district they taught for 7 weeks knows less Spanish than i do.. What am i going to do when I get to Argentina and know nothing ha ha. oh well. Other stuff happened that made some people mad, but im not going into that. This is a good challenge. We'll have to really puch ourselves.

Brother Beach is awesome isn’t he?  Wow I really love that guy.  I miss him. I miss Bro and Sis Williams. They had great stories. Even if they were a little long... ha ha ha.

Booze town! Congrats on completing operation T. You are awesome. I bet i get a letter from Tara today and she'll tell me all about it. I think she is in love with you. But ya know you have to go on a mission before you get married so slow down! I'm glad that school is going well for everyone. Its so weird not to be at Davis! I have said that before. Its so weird. I miss it. But there are tons of kids from Davis here. I love it. Tallon Burton leaves this week so that will be sad. I am meeting tons of people every week. I love it. Its weird how many people know me from basketball. Everyday almost someone asks me if I played for Davis. Lots of senior missionaries too. They're cute.

So I got released from being the DL. It was awesome while it lasted, but its good to have some free time. ( in the mtc you keep your calling for half your time than switch with someone) The new one is Elder Nelson. He is 22 years old and awesome! He's so funny. I'm glad he is the new DL. I do miss it and hope i get another opportunity at leadership. I truly feel like im finding myself through service.

Oh Elder Thorne broke the record again. 4:38. He's a stud.

Highlight of the week: Ok the temple was awesome! And it was really an answer to my prayers. But, we had an amazing devotional. Mom you asked if I had read the Elder Holland talk in my binder( i love the binder!!) YEs i read it the first week. AWESOME talk! anyways, he came and talked to the MTC last tuesday. Elder Holland! We had excelent seats on the floor. Wow. The minute he walked in you could feel it. Everyone stood up, and you just knew. That is an apostole of the lord. I think I spelled that wrong. Thats how its spelled in Spanish. he is so funny! And so amazing! I have never heard a more amazing talk in my life. I could talk this whole 30 minutes about it. It was truely just life changing. The theme was love, in a sence. I just felt so loved. I'll write you some letters that you'll probably get Friday or Saturday and give you some details on the notes I took. But wow. That guy is amazing. I felt the spirit so strong. Afterwards we had a  devotional district and it was great. I love hearing everyone’s testimonies.

I love you all so much!! Don't forget it. Thank you so much for everything!!

Love Elder Watts