July 29, 2013
This week has gone by so quickly, but it has been great! On Monday after our emergency transfer, My new companion and I went to Sparta, washed our clothes, and packed up and went on exchange in Winona, Minnesota for the next two days. Finally on Wednesday, I had my first real day with my new companion. He has been on his mission for a year, officially this last week. He has honestly been an answer to my prayers. He is really down to earth and easy to talk to. We get along really well, and everything just works out so perfectly! Anyways, he is fantastic! He is very dedicated, and is overall just a great missionary :)
I went on exchanges on Monday and Tuesday in Winona, Minnesota. I love being able to go on exchange and to get to know the other elders in our district better, and to develop an individual relationship with them all rather than just talking to them at district meetings on Wednesdays. The only downside is that I do not spend as much time with my own companion, but I guess everything has it's positive and negative attributes.
We have an investigator in Sparta that I was able to teach while I was on exchange a while ago. She is going to be baptized on August 4th. I am so excited to be able to have my first baptism, and especially for her to become a member of the church! I think that this will definitely be a testimony building experience for me, and will allow me to see the fruits of some of our labors. We also have two other investigators who want to be baptized soon, it is just a matter of scheduling everything. August is going to be a very exciting month!
My first Sunday in Sparta was... interesting. They have a branch in Sparta, so it was rather small. The La Crosse ward was massive, so this was a definite culture shock for me! Apparently there were a bunch of visitors this week, so when I told my companion that I was surprised at how small it was, he laughed and said wait until next week ;) I guess we have a lot of work to do here to fill up the branch so that it can one day become a ward! Hopefully we will be able to teach some families and young single adults as well... There are a lot of elderly people in the branch -- a lot of the younger families are only here temporarily, and have plans to move elsewhere so their kids can be involved in a stronger youth program. We will just have to work a little bit faster before all the families move away haha!
A couple of weeks ago, I gave my first haircut -- to one of our zone leaders. For whatever reason, missionaries, mainly elders, refuse to pay to get a haircut from a professional. Luckily, I am a perfectionist, and his haircut turned out pretty great! Afterwards, he asked me if I would like him to cut my hair. I politely declined, and had my hair cut on P-Day at a salon. I know that hair grows, and if any mistakes are made, it will only take a couple of weeks to cover up, but I just can't allow someone who hasn't been trained to cut my hair. Not now, not ever! (I might remind you Mom of the time that you cut my hair in 4th grade... NEVER again!)
I also forgot to include some important information about another exchange in my email last week. We had an appointment at 8:00 PM in La Crosse with a Hmong family. We ate dinner from 5-6:00 and were absolutely stuffed! Around 8 when we arrived at their home, we walked in, and they sat us down at the dinner table. Uh oh! Apparently it is part of the Hmong culture to feed everyone. We told them that we had already eaten, but they insisted and told us that it was rude not to feed your guests. As they prepared the food in the kitchen they brought us drinks. Right before we took a sip, I decided to ask what exactly this reddish drink was that they were serving us was. The father, kindly answered that it was Bud Lite Strawberry-Rita. They are a less-active family, and I sense they don’t remember what exactly the word of wisdom entails if they are serving alcohol to the missionaries! Then they brought out these HUGE plates of food for the two of us, and they all gathered around and watched us eat it. They told us that the pork we were eating was really fresh, and that they had killed it that morning. At this point I was ready to vomit. We asked if we could take the rest home with us, but the father told us that it is offensive in their culture not to eat everything you are served, and that his mother who cooked everything would never forgive us. We just had to push ourselves, and eat everything. It took forever, but we did it! After a quick message we parted our ways, and waddled to our bikes and rode home. I don't think I have ever been that full in my life!
I have had a lot of really great experiences this week, and am excited to see what new things are to come this next week! I will be in Rochester, Minnesota for the next two days on exchange, and then we will return to Sparta, Wisconsin on Tuesday night to continue working in our area on Wednesday after district meeting. Crazy week ahead! Thank you all for your love and support :) Your emails and letters are so meaningful to me, and help me to press forward during hard times. I love and miss you all!
Elder Kyle William Andrews
In Sparta, we email at the city library. We have a time limit on those computers though (1 Hour), and then it logs us off. I think I am going to start asking my friends to write me letters instead of emails, so in 1 hour I can just focus on my weekly email home, and my presidents letter.
Thank for everything! Email you next week :)