Hello family! CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT I'M SERVING A MISSION RIGHT NOW??? It's so crazy to me. It feels like I'm in a dream each day! I'm alive! It's so strange not waking up in the MTC each morning and going to class with a big group of newbies. It feels even weirder to have people reject your message! They didn't prep us for this at the MTC!
On Wednesday morning, I woke up at 2am, caught my bus at 3am, and got to the Salt Lake airport around 4am. I was plumb tuckered out by then! I'm so glad I got to travel with Elder Tolman (see photo) from my district. We had a layover in Minnesota, so I got to call Mom and talk to her for a while. :) When we landed in Cincinnati I was SO nervous! I thought I would have time to run to the bathroom and freshen up or something before meeting my new mission president, but they were waiting to greet us even before we got to baggage claim. I was a sweaty mess! President and Sister Porter are AWESOME. For being brand new themselves, they certainly are on the ball. Elder Tolman and I got to ride in the mission truck that was pulling the luggage of the 30 or so new missionaries coming to the Ohio, Cincinnati mission because Elder Tolmans older brother is the Assistant to the President and was driving.
Ohio is SO green! (See picture) I am in an area called Centerville, which is a suburb near Dayton. It's neat that I get to serve near where I was born. The mission home is in Cincinnati. On the way there from the airport, we turned a big corner on the freeway, and BOOM! There's the Cincinnati Skyline.
So pretty. President and Sister Porter's house is great! It's a pretty large home in a lovely neighborhood. Sister Porter had prepared Cafe Rio style dinner for us to eat and get acquainted with the other missionaries we would serve with. After dinner, we had interviews with the President, and then a great presentation by the president. He is a powerful man!
The next morning, we woke up at 5:30 to head over to the transfer meeting. Since the mission covers a large area, I was assuming I'd be in a car zone.... NOPE! Elder Christensen (my trainer) and I were assigned to a bike area! Centerville is lovely. It's an older community, and many people that we've contacted have grown up in the area. There are parks EVERYWHERE, and also countless churches of differing faiths. The first few days, we were on foot (since I didn't have a bike) and I got blisters on both feet. Thankfully, a wonderful ward member let me borrow their bike/helmet for my stay in the area. The ward here is AWESOME! There are so many kind and warm people, and we've already had meals with 4 member families! This ward is phenomenal at ward missionary work. They are always giving us referrals and coming up with ways to re-active the less-actives and visit/serve others. They are such wonderful examples of disciples of Christ!
I thought I would be in a "trio", but no one in the mission is. My companion, Elder Christensen, has been out for 18 months, and knows the area very well. He's kind and works hard. I know I'll learn a lot from him.
Missionary work is SO MUCH HARDER than I thought it would be! I'm not used to being rejected so much! Most people are gracious about it, but some are plain rude. I have nothing to compare it to, so I'm not sure if we're doing well or not but we do have some investigators and potential investigators we're working on. On my first day, we were walking by a home, and a man named Chris called us in for a cool drink. He has several copies of the Book of Mormon and loves the Bible and Christ. He's had a rough life, but Elder Christensen and I were able to have a wonderful lesson with him about the Restoration and the power of the Atonement. It was so hopeful that some person invited US in for a change. I hope and pray that Christ will have us back. On my second day, we were walking home, and a jogger stopped us. I thought it was a miracle when he asked us to "tell him about our church", but the conversation quickly went to polygamy and it turns out he was a VERY devout catholic looking for a Bible bash... Cheryl and Keagan are a mother and son who come to church every week. We're hoping to get them set on a baptism date! Already, we've done a few service projects for non-members, hopefully planting seeds. It is really hard trying to bring up the Gospel with people, and harder going door-to-door and not sound like you're selling something.
Our apartment is pretty good! It's just the two of us, but we have access to a "fitness center" in the clubhouse each morning and we have new appliances and working A/C! Woo! However, I was changing my bedding this morning and noticed MOLD growing all over my pillow. I about threw up. I'm sure there will be worse things in Brazil, though ;)
There have already been times where I've gotten a little discouraged, but it cheers me up to remember that I am here for a reason - to help someone come unto Christ before I head off to Brazil - for however long I have until I leave. There have already been a few times where I feel totally inadequate in my teaching abilities or knowledge, or when Satan puts doubts on the strength of my faith or testimony, but I have confidence in the promises of the Lord. I have to keep reminding myself, "I'm not here for JASON, I'm here for the LORD!" I know my mission won't be easy, but I KNOW it will be worth it. I'm SO grateful for the Restored Gospel! I know Heavenly Father hears and answers the prayers of His children.
Heavenly Father LOVES us! It's a miracle.
I love you all!
Elder Jason Allred