Loving Ottumwa! The people here are amazing and even though some people yell things at us as we ride on our bikes around town, I think that they’re starting to warm up to us! 😉
So far (the first couple days being an exception), we have been having some AMAZING weather. Cool days with nice breezes and no humidity. Sadly, this is not the norm and the 5th, 6th, 7th generation farmers out here are saying that that means that we are going to have one heck of a brutal winter. I don’t think I need to tell you how excited that made me feel.
Man, I love it out here, though! Ottumwa is an old river town with a lot of character and not a lot of money. Our ward is small, but strong, and the sacrifices that they make to help each other is incredible.
Mom, I really miss your cooking and being able to have some alone time (having a companion 24/7 is new), but I have to say…I’m not homesick. Hope no one hates me for saying that! I love you all, of course! But this place… I need it and it needs me…or the Gospel through me anyways.
Let’s see…what else has happened? Saw my first fireflies last week! Man, they are cool! Ugh, if you haven’t noticed already, I love Iowa. I love the smaller towns, I love the fact that everyone listens to country music (even though I can’t), I love the green rolling hills that go out as far as the eye can see… I love it. I don’t know if many people back home understand how beautiful it can be out here. The bright blue skies with those clouds that look like they came right out of the wallpaper from Andy’s room in “Toy Story” stretching out for miles and miles until they meet the rolling hills so far out. Apparently visibility here is like 18 miles.
It’s funny how much of my past life prepared me for this place specifically. You DO NOT understand how many times I’ve been able to talk to people about their truck because they have the SAME truck as I did (except it’s always like 1 or 2 years off or it’s a F-150 or something). It seems like every other person here has a connection to California, too, usually the Southern part of it. There’s a BUNCH of people who have connections to San Bernardino, too! A bunch of people are like, “Yeah, we grew up there” or “I have family in the area” or “I drive through there all the time.” And then don’t even get me started on sports. Elder Graham hates it because he never really played/watched sports, so he just has to sit on the side while I talk to members/non-members for like 20 minutes just on one aspect of one sport. It’s usually basketball or baseball.
Anyways, I’m running short on time and I still have to email the President.
To everyone reading this email, I KNOW THIS CHURCH IS TRUE. A lady on the street asked me if I would ever change religions. I told her, “I can’t.” You know why? Because I found out for myself. That’s the only way to ever know if anything is true. You put it to the test. You cannot tell me that you read the Book of Mormon and prayed about it and didn’t get an answer. You will. I know you will. Because that’s how I found out. If I didn’t believe in this Gospel, I wouldn’t have left behind all of you and then paid for myself to be out here. All missionaries leave behind a lot, but that’s because there is more for us to gain out here.
This Church is true. I would give my life for it. I would give my life for it because it has given me mine. It has given me purpose, direction, hope, happiness, and peace of mind knowing that one day, I can be together with my family forever with my Father in heaven.
Faith and Honor,