Anyway, I am now in Valrico, Florida with my new companion and trainer, Sister Alder! Florida is great. The heat and humidity isn't as bad as I thought it would be. I love the sun and the palm trees everywhere. There are lizards all over the place, and small bodies of water everywhere. I haven't seen an alligator yet, though... :P It hasn't rained that much, but there was a torrential downpour my first night here while we were at the mission home. We stayed overnight in a hotel the first night, and then the Assistants to the President gave us a crazy hard workout that first morning. We got some last minute training and then we were off! I can't use my iPad yet because I had to do some training and now I have to wait to get approved. So Sister Alder has to do all the iPad stuff by herself :) Sister Alder is super great. She's from Arizona. She likes musicals and singing in choir like me. She's funny, too. Last night I was talking about how it feels like it's been forever since I emailed, and she said, "Your mission is like a roll of toilet paper. As you get to the end, it goes faster." Haha :) She's only been out since February though, so she has just finished her own training!
Okay, so I should probably go back and talk about the last week at the MTC. We got the 2 new districts in our zone and they were awesome. I saw a girl from my ward in Rexburg, Sister Wellard who is going to Japan. I also saw a friend from From the Heart, Sister Parker! Our district had a lot of great times together. Sister Jensen and I had some good experiences with our new investigators, Josh and Janie. They both prayed with us! It is really powerful when someone prays, especially when it may be their first time.
On the morning of Tuesday, May 17, I woke up at 2:30 am and got ready to board the bus for the airport! I got to call my family for a little bit after we got through security. We went first to Atlanta. It was funny how people would recognize us and say hi :) One security guard came up to us. "Elders and Sisters! Where are you headed? There's a guy around here who buys food for missionaries when he sees them, so stick around if you can!" When we got to Tampa, we were met by the mission president, his wife, and his assistants. We drove to the mission home and had some training and a great dinner :) The next day we got assigned our companions and went to our areas. Valrico is a nice place and there are a lot of communities within communities, if that makes sense. We have a car (apparently it is named Legion), and the elders dropped off my bike that night because our bike rack is broken. We never bike, though. It is just a whole lot of walking :) The first couple days, my feet and legs killed, but I'm okay now. My legs are getting stronger :) The first night, I had a hard time getting to sleep because we are right next to a busy street, our ceiling fan is really noisy, and there was a cricket outside that sounded like an alarm clock. So I've been exhausted, but I feel better today. Our apartment has a washer and dryer in it, and our grocery store is Winn Dixie, like in the book and movie! :) My brother sent me an Amazon pantry box which was a lifesaver :)
Friday was an absolutely great day. The mission has been hyping up for a Gladys Knight event for months. She is a famous singer and she directs an award winning gospel choir. Well, Friday was the big day! There were 2 performances at our local chapel, one at 5:30 and one at 8:30. They brought in all the missionaries from surrounding areas to our area to advertise it. Then we got to go because we had people coming to both performances! It was amazing. The music was awesome and Sister Knight has a really powerful testimony and a wonderful way of communicating it. It was so awesome! There were order forms for a gift package that missionaries would deliver. In the packages are a Book of Mormon, a Restoration DVD, and a sample CD of the choir. We were so excited to get them in hopes to have people to teach, but we only got 6 to deliver, and Sister Alder knows them all already. Hopefully we will get more as the forms get sorted out. I have met a few people that Sister Alder and her former companion have been working with, which is great. They came to the Gladys Knight event. One is Greta, who is less active in the church, and Dari, who seems to like the church but doesn't want to commit to anything while her husband is gone in Afghanistan. Her son comes to youth group on Wednesday nights, though, and her husband is coming home for a visit soon :)
It was great to go to our local congregation yesterday. The people seem really awesome. I'm excited to get to know them and get involved in the activities. I hope we can get the members involved in the missionary work, because it really feels like we have nothing to do. It sounds like Sister Alder and her former companion have done just about everything already and the work has died down. Sister Alder says she has knocked on the doors in the area multiple times already and the people recognize her, so it's kind of ineffective to knock again, especially after Friday.
Sorry this is a really long email. I hope I'm not forgetting to say anything. I love and miss you all! It is hard to be so disconnected from the world. Speaking of which, apparently sister missionaries in some areas of the world can wear pants now to prevent insect bites! A member asked us about it at church yesterday. It is not allowed in our mission, but some of the members were saying that it should be because of the Zika virus.
Anyway, I wish you all the best! My address is 3404 Pine Trace Circle, Valrico, FL, 33596 if you want to write me! I would love mail :)