This past week has been quite interesting to say the least. First and foremost, the "beats ban" was removed from our mission. Now we can listen to music with a beat, still no EFY music though. One of the missionaries brought out a CD from his archives and has shared it with us all, it is really something. They are all songs from the Primary Children's Songbook, but they are hip hop versions of these songs. Kind of odd that we are getting excited over music, but it's apparently a big deal down here. President Clements keeps a tight ship, but we have a very obedient mission, so it all works out!
This past week, I went on four exchanges. It was fantastic! My first exchange was with a Spanish missionary. I had my first official Spanish lesson, which was an experience, and he even translated a couple of things for me. I only know very few select words in Spanish from Dora The Explorer, like Hola, so it wasn't exactly effective for my teaching, but it was cool to watch the lessons in different languages. Next, I exchanged with one of our zone leaders. This is the Elder that gave us the CD with the hip hop primary songs. He is a really cool guy, and I had a great time serving with him. Then I went on exchanges and Elder who came out to the mission with me, so we have not had very much experience. He was super sick though, because earlier that day we all had a zone conference and went to 5 Guys Burgers and Fries. Pretty much our entire zone felt sick, but he got the worst of it. And last, the other day I exchanged with a Hmong missionary. Unfortunately I wasn't able to sit in on any Hmong lessons, but hearing him speak his language was really cool! I have another exchange this week, but I am not sure who I will be exchanging with yet. It's nice getting to learn from other Elders in our mission though, and meeting so many new people!
This past week we also received a pretty cool announcement. On June 15th, we will be meeting together as a mission to hear from Elder Holland, Elder Callister, Elder Dube, and Bishop Stevenson. I'm sure it will be a pretty amazing day, and it will be great to hear from such influential church leaders. I will have to let you know next week how it goes, and share some of the things that they said.
As I mentioned earlier, this week we had a zone conference. One of the highlights, was hearing from Sister Clements. She had a great lesson for us on etiquette. It reminded me of all of the etiquette dinners I have attended for FCCLA events, I loved it! It shocks me sometimes to learn that some people do not know about basic etiquette, which is why they have to teach these skills to all of the missionaries. Crazy! I am so glad that we have President and Sister Clements in our mission. They are so great, and I love hearing from them and learning about them each time we get to see them!
On Sunday I was asked to give a talk to introduce myself to the ward, and to talk about any gospel principle of my choosing. I talked about myself for a while, and the various things I have been involved with throughout my life, and related it to the sense of belonging, and families. For the rest of my time, I talked about families, and how we can strengthen our families. They didn't inform me before hand that this was also the day of a missionary farewell. I talked about how difficult it was to leave my family for two years, but that it would be well worth it in the end. Then I shared the Facebook quote about missionaries (noun) someone who leaves their family for two years so that others can spend eternity with theirs. By this time someone in one of the front two rows was crying. After I spoke, they announced the next speaker and that he will be departing for the MTC this Wednesday. That woman was his mother. It reminded me of my farewell, and how truly difficult that was. Maybe family wasn't the best topic after all!
Just so you all know, I am fully aware that my birthday is in a little over a month. I have already begun working on my classic birthday list, but it will not be as beautifully designed as it has been in the past. I apologize, but there is not much I can do! If only I had my laptop with me :)
Thank you all for your support. Missionary work is not easy. I must work harder and press on, even if it is challenging. Your prayers and kind words have helped me so much, and I truly appreciate you all. I am constantly reminded of my favourite quotation in the entire world, by the one and only, Walt Disney. "If you can dream it, you can do it." I know this to be true, and I will not give up. I can do it. I love and miss you all!
Elder Kyle William Andrews