Monday, July 15, 2013

If you made a pancake the size of Kansas, Kansas would be flatter

Oi familia!

Primero, talking with all of you was aweome.  Sorry I woke up the family back in SLC at a less than pleasant hour but I figured you would want to talk and that was the only time that I knew I had.  It was good to talk to you and I'm glad you're doing well. It was good to talk to Michelle and the kids as well (Sorry Tyler, when I fly to Brazil I'll hit you up as well).  There was a phone in the Denver airport that let us make calls for free to anywhere in the US so my companion and I called our brothers' families. I'm glad I got to talk to each one of you.  Coleman seemed very excited about me eating a lot of fruit in Brazil and he told me "once you're done in Brazil you should come visit my house in Georgia".  I guess I have plans once I get home then.  

Anyway, I feel like so much has happened since last time I wrote so I'll give you a brief play by play of stuff that happened since Friday.

Saturday was much of the same.  It was the last class day for four of those in our district.  Our teachers shared with us some awesome experiences from their missions, pictures from their missions, and general advice.  One of my teachers was temporarily reassigned to Alabama for three months before she received her visa, so she gave us advice on how to keep up on Portuguese and some general stuff of stateside missions.  Altogether, though I'm sad I'm not in Brazil, I've certainlly grown to appreciate this time that I have here in Kansas more than I may have otherwise.  Essentially, nothing on Saturday was overly eventful.  We got lots of pictures, though I still don't know how to upload them places.  I'll work on that.  

Sunday was a fairly emotional day.  It was the last time our whole district will see each other for a long time.  It was also fast Sunday so we had an extra abundance of the Spirit.  We had mission conference at the MTC (like a mini general conference) and that was pretty good.  We had our exit interviews with President Hodges (our branch president) and then headed to Fast and Testimony meeting.  I felt compelled to share part of my experience with Grandma's passing and the scripture from D&C 42:44-46.  Essentially, my words were about how a lot of beauty can be found in times of tragedy.  Altogether it was a good meeting. In our branch the departing district sings the closing hymn as a musical number.  We sang our own arrangement of "How Great Thou Art" and wow, that was amazing.  Our idea in choosing that song was that we wanted to share our testimonies in song, and it was fantastic.  The Spirit flooded the room and filled me up to the point that it testified to everyone that what we were saying was true.  It was an amazing experience.  After devotional that night (we had a man and his wife give some talks.  They were both hilarious and talked about effective missionary work) our district skipped the films and had a final testimony meeting with each other.  The Spirit was again very very strong with us that night.  It was amazing to hear from each person about their "last words" they would say to the district.  I lot of very tender testimony was shared and we learned so much that night.  We truly loved each other and learned so much.  I know we will all serve honorably and that we will change lives.

Monday was sad because our district began to shrink.  We lost our first four missionaries:
Elder Trenton Stratton - Colorado Fort Collins
Sister Megan Brown & Ashley McBride - Colorado Denver North
Elder Giovanni Hartman - Salt Lake City East (look for him.  He's been permanently reassigned for medical reasons so he'll be there the full term)
The morning was spent with our teacher Irmao (portuguese for brother) Porter.  He mostly told us stories about his mission and really cool things.  We helped another class teach the first lesson and had a great last time with him.  I was super sad to see him go, but I know we were very blessed by the Lord to have him as our teacher.  He taught me so much and I know that he truly loved us as a class.  I just hope I can change other people's lives as much as he changed mine.  That afternoon the remaining Elders did our packing.  I managed to hit under the weight limit (even with all my Portuguese books) so I was thrilled about that.  At dinner we said our final goodbyes to the sisters and said we would see them again (which most of us did) and headed to class.  We had our final class with Irma (portuguese for sister) Dangerfield.  We began reading in Alma 26 and shared some thoughts about how this gospel is important to us, what we hope to gain from our missions, and what we hope to give while on our missions and that was a very powerful experience.  We helped another class learn how to ask inspired questions and then we ended with Irma Dangerfield showing us pictures from her mission and telling us stories. That goodbye was also painful for us because we loved her so much as well, but she said we're all going to have a reunion party when we get back so we'll look forward to that day.  We also lost three more sisters that evening:
Sister Janae Tenney, Kailey Sherman, Alexis Walker - Kansas Wichita

Tuesday was wonderful.  I got three hours of sleep (huzzah for waking up at 1:45) and had the wonderful issue in the airport.  The last of us left the MTC and we're all in our respective fields of labor now.
Elder Alexander Lash & Trent Evans - Kansas Wichita
Elder Jerry Pimentel - Idaho Twin Falls
Anyway, we all made it to Kansas (there were 23 of us reporting to Kansas, 23!) and I was the 6th missionary to ever arrive in the Kansas Wichita Mission.  On the plane I sat by another missionary on the way to Denver and a lady whose husband was a stake president on the way to Kansas.  The lady was from Kansas and she told me about Kansas, what a wonderful place it was and other general stories about her life.  Then we disembarked from the plane and met President and Sister Bell.  Sure enough, the sister trio that left the night before was waiting at baggage claim so we talked to them a little.  Then we went, took pictures, and reported to the mission home.  We had some meetings and the office missionaries told us about the details of things and we had our interviews with President Bell.  He told me I get language study time (YAY!) and generally that he's just excited to have us all here to serve no matter how long we're here for.  He also said that once we receive word that the church has our visa, the mission is given three days to hold on to us before shipping us out.  Wow. The Church doesn't waste any time.  Afterwards, we had an amazing dinner then the sisters stayed at the mission home that night and the Elders were shipped off to various places around Wichita for the night.  

Wednesday we went to the church at 7:30 to receive our areas, companions, and part ways.  I've been assigned to the Wellington Ward and my trainer's name is Elder Sutherland.  He's a pretty neat guy from San Diego and we get along pretty well.  Our ward is huge and is mostly comprised of a bunch of small towns.  One way or another we're going around, doing work, spreading the gospel, and inviting others to come to Christ.

Kansas, in a word, flat.  It's really confusing to look around and not see mountains anywhere.  They have a lot of trees and a plethora of farms.  We do a lot of work with Less Actives (our ward is huge.  It takes an hour to drive end to end) and visting them, sharing the gospel, inviting them to share the gospel, and return to church.  It's been fun.  We also have a lot of Potential Investigators, though not any that are super committed. Most are interested in our message, but not enought to do anything about it.  It just kills me to see these people who have these struggles in their lives which can all be solved through the gospel of Jesus Christ! I just hope that I can show people how the gospel of Jesus Christ has completely changed my life and helped me in every aspect.  I know that this gospel can help everyone if they accept it! We've had a lot of opportunities to testify of the Book of Mormon to a lot of people and I know how much it can help and change their lives if they are willing to read, pray, and learn for themselves that this is true.  Anyway, I know I'm on the Lord's errand, and no matter how long he wants me here for, I want to do everything I can to help these people.  

O evangelho e' verdadiero! Ate' mais!

Amo voces!
Elder Evans

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