Wow, it's already been another week already?? To begin, I'll answer your questions.
1. My daily schedule looks like this:
6:25 A.M. - Wake up and exercise until 7:00. Sister Cook and I like to rotate our workouts between yoga/stretches, indoor cardio, outdoor cardio (running around the block), and strength (the apartment already had some weights and an ab machine when we got here... I really do feel spoiled).
7:00-8:00 - Shower, get ready for the day, and eat breakfast. We love making omelets, oatmeal, breakfast burritos, smoothies.. the works.
8:00-9:00 - Personal study. We study from Preach My Gospel, the Bible and Book of Mormon, and the approved missionary books (True to the Faith, Our Heritage, Our Search for Happiness, and Jesus the Christ). Oh and Sister Cook loves reading the stories out of the Ensign.
9:00-10:00 - Companionship study. We shared what we each learned from personal study, review our plans for the day, practice teaching to each other (occasionally), and sing (I love singing together. I bought a mini hymn book in the MTC and I've used it every day since).
10:00-12:00 - We're out and about, making visits to ward members, less actives, potential investigators listed in the Area Book, and progressing investigators.
12:00-1:00 - We come back to the apartment and eat lunch.
1:00-8:00 - We're out again, working until dinner, which we usually have with ward members for an hour.
8:00 - We head back to the apartment for "12 Week", which is extra training that new missionaries get. We study from a manual and watch some of The District videos (we have a portable DVD player). All the missionaries in my district tell me that you get to know the District videos really well and really fast, haha.
9:00 - Daily planning. We review the day, make note of what we can improve on in contacting, teaching, etc, and write in our plans for the next day.
10:00 - We get ready for bed, write in our journals, relax, and then go to sleep at 10:30.
2. Our budget as missionaries is really limited, so we have to be strategic about our shopping. We make a list of what we need, then go to the 99 cent store first and get what we can. They have a surprising good selection of produce there... a few weeks ago we got blueberries for $1?? What groceries we can't get there, we get at Wal-Mart. And we have a washer and dryer in our apartment, so we do laundry at home.
3. As for the apartment, we sleep in the same room and each have a twin bed. Across the hall we have another bedroom, which serves as our "office"... we have a desk and chairs where we study, and a large white board up on the wall where we keep lists of people in the ward, investigators, baptismal dates, plans for the week, etc. I'll send pictures next week! Also, we each have our own bathroom (have I mentioned that in previous emails? I can't remember)... which has been so nice.
Also, I did get the letter from Samantha - the mission home forwards mail to me if it gets sent there. Thank goodness! I got a letter from her and Elizabeth in the same day and I was jumping up and down at the mailbox in excitement, haha.
Yes there are other missionaries in Havasu - 2 other sisters serving in the other ward, Sister Schumaker (spelling?) and Sister Lowry. They're both over half way through with their missions. We're going on exchanges with them tomorrow and I'm a little nervous about it, but it will be a good learning experience.
It is pretty crazy that I've already got one month down... The time keeps picking up the pace! I'm trying to savor my time with Sister Cook because I've been so blessed in our companionship.
This week was really interesting and very fun. I finally feel like I'm getting a grasp on the area and the ward, which has given me a whole lot more confidence. Again, we had some memorable experiences in people's homes. One day we decided to visit an older couple in the ward, Brother and Sister Rader. Both of them are probably in their mid-80s and have poor health. The moment we walked in the door to their home, we were surrounded by baby dolls. I kid you not, they were lined against every wall, on every table, on every shelf, filling up the entire house. Hundreds and hundreds of dolls, in strollers, carseats, cribs, you name it. It was like CC's collection of dolls times a hundred, but they were only babies. I stifled laughs as we sat down on their couch. I looked at Sister Cook thinking, What is going on?? We sat and talked to Sister Rader, who was basically bedridden on their love seat with a large blanket around her. It's so funny making visits with older people in the ward because they love to talk, and talk, and talk. Sister Rader was no different. We shared a scripture with her from the Book of Mormon on mothers and she loved it. She said, "Oh yes, I have loved being a mother. The time that my kids were little was the happiest period of my life." I think she's collected so many baby dolls as a way of coping with the fact that she no longer has her own babies at home. It was sweet, but also very sad. Keep her and her husband in your prayers - a few days after our visit, Brother Rader had a heart attack and is currently in the hospital recovering.
We met a man street contacting this week named Mickey. He was sitting in a chair on his porch, just watching the beautiful Havasu sunset. He's older, in his 70s, and lost his wife last year. We talked to him about his religious background and his belief in Jesus Christ. We shared a scripture from Matthew with him and then said a prayer. He seemed to really enjoy our visit, and agreed to have us come back and meet his family on Friday evening (he lives with his granddaughter, who's 23 and pregnant with her 3rd baby boy). When we met with them on Friday, his granddaughter, Ashley, opened the door and said, "Oh, you're here. Come on in." She didn't seem too excited or thrilled that we were there, but Mickey did. We sat and tried to get to know them, but Ashley's little boys (3 and 6) were running all over the place, which was so distracting. We tried to share the message of the Restoration, but it was hard to teach because Sister Cook and I were just off. Mickey was extremely receptive because I think he likes us, but we felt disappointed after walking out of their home because we hadn't taught by the Spirit as much as we would have liked. We're meeting with them again tomorrow, so we're hoping it goes better than last time.
I'm running out of time, but I want to share one last experience before I go. There's a couple that the missionaries have been teaching for a few years who are good friends with our bishop, Bishop Hansen. Their names are John and Suzie, they're about 50, and they've recently taken in their young grandkids to raise (ages 6 months and 2 and a half). We visited with them on Saturday night, which was my first time to meet them and get to know them. They're both very kind. From what I'd gathered about them, they'd shown interest in the church for years, but have never been baptized. So i told Sister Cook before going into their home that our intention should be to get to know where they stand spiritually and figure out what's holding them back from joining. We went in and struck up good conversation with Suzie immediately. They taught us in the MTC to get good at asking inspired questions to get to know investigators and discern their needs. So i decided to basically just ask Suzie questions the whole time so that I could really get a feel for where she and John are at. After about an hour, it came down to this: they haven't joined the church because they struggle to accept that only one church can have the whole truth. All churches have some truth in them, but they can't accept that ONE church has it all. Suzie said she's liked a lot of different things that different religions and churches teach, so she's essentially gathered what has resonated with her over the years and developed the ideal set of beliefs. I asked her, "So, I don't mean to sound argumentative, but this is an honest question from person to person... Say everyone were to do as you're doing: pick out or decide what sounds best to them and deem that as the truth. What kind of world would we live in?" She stopped to think about it and gave me a smile. "You know," she began, "you're right. I don't have an argument for that. If everyone were to think this way, who's to stop someone from saying, 'You know, I think smoking marijuana is right. So I'm going to do that.' I don't really know how to answer that." She also struggled with the concept of tithing to a church - she understands the intent, but she asked, "Why does it have to go to the CHURCH? Why can't it just be to the community or someone in need?" And she also doesn't want to give up her alcohol. I kept thinking of the word sacrifice, and how John and Suzie both need to understand that law. My head has been spinning with ways to teach them, and I'm so excited to meet with them this week again and share with them some thoughts that Sister Cook and I have had after visiting with them Saturday night. It was the first lesson I've had on the mission where I really felt like I was "teaching people, not lesson" (a concept they drill repeatedly into our brain at the MTC). John and Suzie are both SO CLOSE to realizing the fullness of the truth. Keep them in your prayers as well.
Also, on Friday we got to head into Vegas to go to the temple with all the new missionaries and President and Sister Snow. It was incredible, and absolutely stunning. I wrote you more about it in a letter home, Mom.
I love you all so much! Have a wonderful week.