Oh, it was a roller coaster week! I honestly felt like I experienced the full spectrum of emotions. Pday was busy - shopping and cleaning and packing and energy sessions and Pday sports and saying goodbye to people in my area. Thank goodness for Sister Montandon and her energy work... I went in for an hour and a half with her and she worked her magic. I walked out of her house feeling well-equipped emotionally, spiritually, and mentally to face transfers and head to Henderson. Transfer day was busy - I got into the area in Anthem with Sister Smith and got to work setting goals and making plans for the transfer. For the first few days, I was overwhelmed being there. It was like a sensory overload experience - everything felt so new and different! We are over the Inspirada ward, which is up in the mountainous/"hillcountry" part of Anthem stake... our geographic area isn't very big, but the ward has over 800 members. In sacrament meeting yesterday, we had nearly 450 people in attendance! The membership is HUGE! Half of them are primary-aged kids... we have 2 primaries and 2 nurseries. We have tons of young couples - many of them are just a few years older than me. Yesterday after sacrament, one couple came up to Sister Smith and me and introduced themselves. They just got married in March, and they both served missions - He in Uganda and she in France. "We just moved in - this is our first here - and we just wanted to let you know that we will be happy to go out with you anytime! Seriously, we know how it is, and we have a lot of spare time right now as we're looking for work and going to school, so call us any time!" So we invited them to come out with us that night, and it was so fun. They're only 21 and 22 - I felt like we'd been friends for years. Because I know that I soon will be in a similar stage in life, I think it will be a good experience for me to serve here and see how so many young couples, freshly returned from their missions, begin their lives together as member missionaries!
I am also so impressed with the leadership here. morning, all the missionaries in our stake met at the Stake President, President Gates', home for a breakfast and meeting. He invited all of us and our ward mission leaders, and he spoke on how what priesthood keys he has over missionary work in our stake, and how important it is to him to work hard and effectively to find, teach, and bring others into the church. It was incredible! Additionally, he holds a Family Home Evening in his home every other week for missionaries to bring their investigators to. After church yesterday, he called Sister Smith and I personally to make sure one of our investigators, Kari (who is getting baptized ), would be there because he really felt she would help another investigator who would be in attendance. Isn't that incredible?? He is more involved than most bishops are in in missionary work! I really feel that this is one of the main reasons I was sent to Anthem - to watch and observe the stellar leadership here. I am so excited to work with these members!
The work in general here is totally different than in North and Paradise... It actually reminds me a lot of Lake Havasu. Everything is just generally slower - it's more quiet and there are less people out and about. But I'm excited about the fact that those that we DO find and teach will be more solid, though. And while I think overall, our zone teaches less lessons and finds less new investigators than other areas in the mission, we have a good history of baptizing and retaining new converts. Another plus of serving here it that we're right down the road from the mission home and mission office! I've never served so close to everyone and everything! I am excited to get more interaction with President Snow.
evening this week, we received a text from President informing the mission of the loss of a missionary who served here - Derek White. Elder White went home last December, and was actually my last district leader for my latter 2 transfers in Havasu. He was popular in the mission, especially for his piano skills. He was so impressive on the piano - he could play anything and everything, and he couldn't even read sheet music. He and Sister Kraus used to perform together all the time, him on the piano and she on the fiddle. He came to Vegas over the weekend to visit some of his converts and to go to the testimony meeting for the departing missionaries . He actually came to our Pday sports up in North. He was sitting on the stage when I walked into the gym. "Elder White!" I exclaimed. 'What are you doing here?!" - "I'm just here to see some friends and make a quick visit before school starts up at BYU in a couple weeks!" I shook his hand and talked to him for a minute before getting into the volleyball game everyone was playing. He got on the piano in the corner of the gym and started up some music for us as we played. I remember thinking - "Oh, I've missed his music!"
When Sister Smith and I got the text with the news night, we were in the middle of nightly planning. We both just started to weep. He apparently had been driving home from his trip to Vegas early morning when he lost control of his car, got stuck on a one - lane road, and got hit by a semi. It was obviously devastating for everyone. I was in shock... I asked Sister Smith, "This actually happens? We actually have to put in practice what we teach?" The news shook me, and impressed upon me the very fragile nature of life. It led me to think deeply on the Plan of Salvation, and on the significance of life here. My mind seemed to return again and again to Alma 34 in the Book of Mormon: