First Letter from Canada -- Aug 25, 1997

I arrived to Lethbridge at the end of August. I think I worked for a few days and then we had P day. Reading my first letters home is actually a little embarassing. They are so silly. I am trying to talk myself into being excited and clearly lacking some confidence. I guess that's why I went into the field, to grow. I was so worried about being a bad missionary, about hoping my parents didn't think I was a bad missionary, so it seems there is a lot of over zealousness in these letters, not to mention an obnoxious sense of humor: [brackets denote editor's comments]

"25 Aug '97

Dear Family,

"I'm here! I made it...(as Bro. ... has already told you) [interestingly, my first companion's father and my father worked together. My trainer faxed his dad the same night I arrived and so our two dads probably had a nice chat at work the next day and next few months] Anyhow, I'm here, and figuring out what missionary work is really about. Learning that, hey , I get tired and, hey, the MTC's role playing is pretty sugar-coated. Elder ... , my trainer, is good. He's on top of things. We're both singers and missionaries, but I think that's about all we have in common. (Joke)...I'm serving the Lethbridge 9 & 10 wards, and I'm having a blast, I guess you could say. I'm not in a car, but on bike, (or foot, if I get a flat tire). But that is good for me.

"I guess [my girlfriend's] farewell was yesterday, wasn't it. Well, I hope it went well, and I suppose you all had the chance to get to know her Ma & Paw better by seeing them talk. (I would imagine they gave talks) --

"But about Canada...

"I think what surprised me the most was the freeways. In Salt Lake, the roads by I-15 are barren....sagebrush. Here they're all grass. Or, a dang big part of it is grass! I slept over at the mission home, & the next day, we found out who our trainer would be, our Area/District/Zone & that good stuff. So then I set out on a grand 'ol bus ride to Lethbridge.

"So I'm here. I'm trying to "get into the groove," if you know what I mean. What throws me off is the Elders. They/We're all a bunch of typical guys that talk about missionary work -- that's how it seems, anyway. It wasn't like that in the MTC, either, but it is here. I'm sure [my sister] knows exactly what I'm talking about.

"There are several families in our teaching pool, but I've not met with the greater portion of them. I've met with three of them, though. There is a family from Chile, who was fellowshipped by a member family -- we taught them a lot, but it was a little rough b/c they didn't want to pray about the B.O.M.

"The ... family is a mother who is Less Active , her husband & two sons, who aren't baptized. It'll be a bit rough with them. They've had the 1st, but same sort of deal. The wife "knows" the church is true, but was offended somewhere along the lines, I guess. We'll see how this one goes.

"My favorite, ..., in a non-member who is a least seventy-five. The D.L. wanted to check up on a less active, so we went over. Her sister was there, so we offered to come back. Now Sis .... [the less active sister] is fellowshipping her sister & becoming more active. We'll teach her a second discussion tonight if she's kept her commitments to read &pray, and ask her to be baptized.

"That's about all for now, except don't be scared to write. Nope. Not at all. In fact, I'd really appreciate it.!

Love you!

Elder Bettilyon"

Earlier in the letter I was talking about what it was like to be around this district of Elders. I was confused because my District and Zone Leaders really had some issues with maintaining the Spirit. (I guess all of us do in some way or another...). We went over to their apt. for a 'sleepover' (my trainer called it "P Day Eve") my first Sunday night in the field. The other missionaries sat up past bedtime and talked and cussued until midnight or so. I laid on a mattress in the hallway thinking that this was incredibly stupid. Finally, one ZL said "Bettilyon must think we're burnt!" and I think they finally went to bed. We'd drive around on P day and they'd look at girls and talk about how they were excited to go home and date, etc. etc. Very frustrating. I tried to engage them in a conversation about this activity by citing D&C 121 about letting "virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly." They found some clever way to mock me and make it sound like they weren't doing anything marginal.

Missionaries are people too, is the conclusion I finally came up with. I had pleny of my own issues out there, too. I was very suprised, however, to find these elders weren't as focused out there in the 'mission field' as they were in the MTC. In hindsight, I probably should have written home about the P Day Eve party and how I was confused about it. Perhaps my father would have sent some good advice.

I should also comment about my girlfriend. We dated for 6 months before my mission. It was an odd relationship, but it was exciting and we both were experiencing feelings of affection and accelerated tokens of affection. (not anything bad...just falling in love with love). I gave her a promise ring before I left. I guess it was a pseudo-engagement ring in her perspective, but I thought it was just a promise to see what happened when I got home. She decided to wait for me by serving a church service mission in the family history center. That's what the 'farewell' was for that I mentioned at the beginning of the letter.

1 comment:

Justin and Emily said...

It's very intresting to here your perspective on things at the time. From the outside I perceived you a certain way and you perceived yourself in a different way. It 's all very intresting to me. I feel bad thinking about this poor new missinary wanting to do the work, but confused about it. I wonder if that happens a lot.

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