Christchurch is definitely an interesting area to work in and it would be a lot harder if my companion, Elder Poulino, hadn't paved the way for me in a sense. We have a sizable teaching pool made up of Less Active members as well as investigators. Since I've been here we haven't been able to begin teaching any new investigators but we've been so busy with those we already meet with that our finding time has been less than it usually would be.
This week was very busy because of various meetings we had during the week like Zone Conference, District Leader Conference, and going on my first exchange as well. I went on exchange with one of my zone leaders, Elder Harris who is also from Twin! It was really cool to talk about some of the things about Twin that are unique to Twin Falls. After being in England for a few weeks and then spending a lot of time with Elder Harris I realized that Twin definitely has its own little sense of humor. It was a very productive exchange as well because we were able to teach a few lessons and spend a good amount of time finding. We went finding near Bournemouth University and were able to talk to many different people. At one point we had a little mini-lesson where we taught a group of 3 friends about how the Gospel could strengthen them and help them through hard times. In the end they were all interested in learning more and wanted to meet again. Kind of frustrating that the one time I was part of finding good potential investigators I was in a different area for the day and wouldn't have the chance to teach them.
Zone Conference was brilliant. Elder Adler from the seventy and his wife came and spoke as well as President and Sister Millar. I don't know if I've told you yet but President Millar is very short! My companion is about 5'6" and he is still taller than President Millar! Regardless it was a very spiritually uplifting meeting. It was also very cool to see some of my friends from the MTC! We only spent 2 weeks together but I already fell like they are my brothers.
The weird part about adjusting to the different systems of measurement here is that England uses bits and pieces of everything. All road signs for the most part are standard, so the speed limit is in MPH. The funniest ones are ones warning about bumps in the road. They call them "humps" and they use yards to measure how long they will continue, not even meters! All of them say "Humps for ___ yds".
I actually noticed that Brownsea Island is very close to where we are on the first or second day I was here. It's really cool that it's so close but I don't think I will ever have a chance to go. Ironically Scouting isn't a part of the young mens program over here or anywhere in Europe. There might be some wards or branches involved but the ward I am currently in isn't involved with scouting. But they did ask me to speak this Sunday... (yesterday) at first I was very annoyed but I quickly realized we're so busy there isn't any time to stress out about speaking to a room full of church members when we are usually spending our time approaching potentially hostile strangers about the gospel. The Ward Mission Leader is a real character and is passionate about missionary work. We always call him "Captain" because he always has new ideas and always tries to get the ward missionaries to do their part.
This week is already markedly better than last week. I've never been one to be very homesick or have a hard time adjusting to situations but my mission has really tested me so far. I've come to find that what makes me the most happy is interacting with new people and beginning to form a relationship with them. The ward is fantastic and the members feed us often. It's not all at once but there have been several points where I have felt so happy and content with being on a mission. It's definitely the most challenging thing I've done so far, but after just 3 weeks I wouldn't trade the experiences I've had for anything. I'm also very blessed with a good companion and trainer. Elder Poulino knows how to work hard but also to have fun while doing it, we spend a lot of time laughing and having fun with whatever it is we're doing and that has helped me a lot.
My first area has definitely been a blessing. I've told you before that I love meeting new people and the Elders that I have met are some of the greatest men I have ever met. I know that I knew all of my companions in the pre earth existance but especially Elder Schulties. I feel like he was a very good friend of mine before this life very similar to the way I feel about all of my friends back home. His companion went home a week into the MTC and he joined our companionship as a tri for the rest of the MTC. I hope I get to be is companion in the future.
The money I spent was on a coat that more suits the cold but not freezing weather we have on and off in Christchurch. I plan on buying more things I need and will probably buy boots as winter sets in. It really isn't that different here at all. They even have Mountain Dew AND Dr. Pepper but I try to avoid it because sugar and caffeine don't do any favors to our constantly exhausted state. I feel like once I have my roots I will enjoy it a lot more. I will hopefully get to email later like I did last week, but regardless I still love you all very much. Please send pictures as well.