So as you know, I had the opportunity to have Jeff Hunter as my host! That was way sweet, and it reassured me that maybe the MTC wasn't going to be so bad. Sure enough, not 5 minutes later I ran into my buddy Jayden Beardall! The first day feels a lot like you're being herded like cattle. You do one thing, then they send you to the next place, and the next place, and the next place. You get the idea. I met a couple of my teachers that day which are Brother White and Brother Belliston. They are way good teachers and I have learned a lot from them since. My companion's name is Elder Reaves, who is from Seattle Washington! So that's cool. He's a great guy and we're pretty dang good at being obedient with exactness. Other guys we're rooming with are Elder Sessions and Elder Hawes. We all are already like brothers.
I'm really loving my time at the MTC so far. It's crazy to think that I only have like two days left. We have to wake up at like 2:00 a.m. Tuesday morning to head to the airport and everything, so that'll be fun. I'm way excited (and a little nervous) to be doing the real stuff but I know the Lord will be right there by my side. Any fear I have about it is usually overridden by my excitement for my bike. It's going to be so sweet. Please keep praying for me, and I will work 110% to make sure that I make my family and the Lord proud. Glad to hear everyone's doing well for the most part. Hopefully I can send handwritten letters that don't take a week to get 40 minutes away. What the heck.
Just before he left he was able to run into his good buddy Josh Nelson -
He arrived in Arizona on September 10th and was assigned to serve in the Phoenix area, here's his first letter:
It's been crazy. And hard. And awesome. And crazy awesome.
So much has happened i have to remember where to start. I don't even remember the last thing you heard from me... I guess I'll start with leaving the MTC. What day was that, last Wednesday? Feels like I've been here for months...
So yeah, we woke up at. a.m... In the morning... Early. So we got like 3 hours of sleep, but it was alright. I got all my luggage figured out and everything was appropriate weights. We hopped on the bus that took us to the Frontrunner that took us downtown, then we hopped on Trax to the airport when I talked to you. The craziest thing that happened was that we did a companion "exchange" so that two of the Elders could talk on the phones while we got something to eat. So my comp and I leave the Elders who still needed to talk on the phone. Well, we didn't even have time to eat, because they were already boarding the plane! Crap. So we sent some other guys to find the Elders, but they never found them, and the plane left without them! We were all freaking out so bad. Good news is they got on a plane like an hour later and were able to make it here just fine. It was so funny.
Then we just had breakfast and stuff and took pictures (that you saw) with president before interviews. Actually, before interviews... (triumphant brass horns) I got my bike! It's so so sweet. I immediately took it for a spin around the parking lot like I was 8 years old again. It was awesome. I always get compliments like "Wow, that's a sweeet bike man! How much did it cost?"... which makes me way nervous because we're in kind-of a ghetto part of town, but I'll get to that. After my bike, I had an interview with Pres. Toone. He said "Elder Cox, you look like someone I can trust. You look like someone who will be obedient. I can tell that you have great leadership qualities, so don't be surprised if you get called to a leadership position"... or something like that. WHAT?! No pressure or anything! Sheesh. That's another thing, is we're getting like 20-40 missionaries every month, and they don't have enough trainers to train everyone. So a lot of the people called to be trainers have only been here for 6 weeks! It's insane. They haven't even finished training and are already training. Some of them are training, opening a new area, and called to like District Leaders... after 6 weeks. Nuts.
My companion's name is Elder Forson. He's from Texas, and he's a nut. He's really cool though, and we get along just fine. Lucky for me he's been here 8 months instead of 6 weeks. I guess they really changed up the area, because I'm actually serving in Phoenix right now! In the Phoenix west mission, called Maryvale or something. We live in the ghettos basically, and it's like 90% Hispanic. It really just feels like I'm in Mexico. I really don't understand how they have so many English speaking missionaries, because everyone who speaks English knows Spanish too. I'll learn really quick, that's for sure. It's good though. We get fed almost every night.
I'm surprised at how much Facebook we use, to answer your question Mom. We use it for an hour every day. Apparently it's pretty effective! I haven't really gotten to use it yet, because I have to make sure it "reflects my sacred calling" first. We'll see how it works out! Pretty crazy!
As to how I'm coping with it, it's fine. It's pretty crazy to get used to, and it's really hot here. To everyone else they're like, "104? It's so nice outside". It's hot. It's weird too because apparently Arizona doesn't really have clean water, so everyone just buys big things of bottled water all the time. I've gotten used to having a layer of sweat on me all the time, and I've just learned to deal with it. It's not too bad though. My comp said that when it gets 110+, it feels like a blow-dryer is on you all the time. I haven't quite experienced that, but pretty close. Once you start sweating though, that cools you down alright.
I'm surprised how much easier it gets to actually say things to people and street contact and stuff. I didn't think I would be this open to talking to random people, but interestingly enough I've gotten pretty comfortable with it. No matter how scary they look, how low their pants are sagging, how many people I think they've killed, we pretty much talk to everyone.. More or less. Even teaching people isn't that hard, and you'd be surprised (maybe) at how receptive people are to the message. When you testify of things they just say "oh that makes sense". Most of the time.
Oh yeah! I forgot another detail about Wednesday. Before we even got assigned to an area or anything, they told us that we would be heading over to ASU to do some street contacting for our first day. They call it OYM, for Open Your Mouth. At first we were like, "what?" but then we were like "yeah". The End.
Just kidding, Elder Fellows and I went together. He was in my district in the MTC and I freaking love the guy. He wasn't even my companion, but I hope he will be. He reminds me so much of Jense it's uncanny. Anyway, we just went around and starting talking to some college kids and it was way cool! The Lord definitely inspired some of the contacts. There was one girl that we contacted who was walking home to her apartment. We kept talking to her but she didn't really seem too interested, but we got her information anyway so that she could "give us a tour of campus". As we were walking back, we saw this kid skateboarding so I said, hey, let's talk to him. As we got to know him, not only does he like skateboarding but he's looking into majoring in computer science. What?! There's no way that I would coincidentally bump into someone that I can relate to like that. Moral of the story: The Lord told us to talk to that girl. Just because she wasn't interested doesn't mean that the Lord didn't have something for us in mind. He led us to her, because otherwise we wouldn't have found Jacob, who is Christian and asked if we had any churches in the area and someone to go to church with. Anyway, that's the moral. The Lord might lead you to a closed door because there's an open one right next to it.
One more story. So we were riding our bikes at night a couple nights ago just meeting with investigators to set up appointments. We were riding when Elder Forson just turns really suddenly to this unlit street. I was wondering what the heck he was doing when I saw that there was a lady there. My first thought was "there's no way he could have seen here (she was standing in the pitch black) the Lord must want us to see her". As we talked to her and told her about what we are she said "you guys came at just the right time". Sweet! The Lord really did send us someone! So I thought. We kept talking to her and found out that she didn't really have a place to stay because she had been kicked out of her parents' house. So of course we pray with her and start teaching her. We would ask her what her plans were and she'd shrug. We asked her if she had a religious background and she wasn't sure. Wasn't sure? After we had explained that we were missionaries several times, she looked at me and asked "Are you a doctor?". Am I a... do I look like a doctor?! Everything we taught her she just looked at us with a blank stare and said... "What?" This lady was definitely on some crazy drugs. Long story short, we got an address to a halfway house or shelter or something like that and gave it to her. It turned what I thought would be a crazy awesome experience into just a funny story. It's alright though.
There is this one family that we taught though that Elder Forson is convinced is going to get baptized. We just randomly found the father, David while we were biking. Come to find out that he's a member, and that he's just been inactive for like.. 20 years. His wife has never had any religious background in her life. He was nice and they fed us a huge dinner on Saturday and we taught them. I think it'll end up well. We have a bunch more people but it would take forever to talk about every single one. In any case, the Lord provides miracles when we're doing what we should be doing. I can't stand the thought of wasting the Lord's time especially when I'm sacrificing so much to be here.
Love you all, thanks for the support, the church is true.
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