Everything's going well here in Oregon. After a really long day of travel, I arrived here at 8 pm Tuesday night. We were picked up by the mission president and his wife and, let me tell you, he's just as incredible as everyone has been saying. They are so, so kind, funny and wonderful.
The next day, we went to the office and met a bunch of the elderly couples that work there. They were all really sweet as well. One of the couples then drove us to the Portland temple where we met up with the missionaries coming in from Provo. We spent a little time in the Visitors Center there and it was great. I actually ran into a girl from my dorm hall my freshman year at BYU who is a missionary in Portland! She doesn't spend all her time at the Visitors Center; they kind of switch off days.
After that, we went out to go see the Coast. It was such a beautiful day. The sun was shining, there was a little bit of a breeze, seriously gorgeous.
We all sat around in a circle and President Samuelian, his wife, and the APs (Assistants to the President) all spoke a little bit. It was really powerful. One of the things president said was that if Satan can't get you to sin, the next thing he tries is to get you to be afraid. So we talked about fear and how that can really be such a detriment to our faith and success. Then, we all went to different parts of the beach and took 20 minutes to write down our fears. It was a really sacred experience to just be so prayerfully introspective. After that, we all took our pieces of paper with our fears on them and buried them in a hole in the sand. Then we set off again back to Newberg! That night, we had interviews with the mission president and, again, he's seriously amazing.
My companion is Hermana Villalobos. She's a native speaker, obviously, which is great but also a little hard because she talks really fast to everyone. I have a hard time developing thoughts in Spanish fast enough for them to be useful. I'm trying, though. I've met a lot of people and they're all super nice. One of my favorite experiences this week was when we taught a lesson to recent converts, Carlos and Maria. It was beautiful hearing them talk about "their angels" (the Elders), how much they love the gospel and how much it's changed their family. It reminded me of why I'm here: to help people have the peace the gospel brings into their lives and families.
Right now I'm in an area called Cornelius. They actually just had a Spanish Branch open up here in January so it's very new. There's only 50 people that go and it's mostly a couple of families. They had their first baptism two weeks ago so that's exciting. It's cool to be the first sisters this branch has ever had.
We also live with another companionship so our apartment is SUPER cramped but it's actually a lot of fun, too.
Now to answer some of mom's questions...
What is the area like? How is the weather? I haven't been around the area too much but it does look a lot like Pennsylvania because of all the trees. It's mostly pine trees, not leafy trees, though. Some days are really rainy and cloudy but some days are super sunny, like today!
Where did you watch General Conference? We watched three sessions of conference at the stake center and one at a member's home. We had a visitor come with us to one of the sessions so that was exciting.
Are there any familiar restaurants around? Not really any familiar restaurants but we did have some pizza the other day that was really good!
The area is really big because we're covering half a stake since we're the only Spanish sisters but we mostly stay in Cornelius which is just a little town. It's nice and I like it!
Love you all and thanks for the thoughts and prayers!
Note from mom: Couldn't resist sending her this: