What a great week!! At the beginning of the week, we had Zone Conference, which was my first and it was way awesome. At Zone conference, several Zones get together and we receive training regarding how to do certain aspects of missionary work as well as hear awesome talks from all the leadership of our mission. We learned about new approaches to contacting and tracting, as well as instruction that strengthened our own testimonies. President Nolan, who is a counselor to President Hanks here in the mission and who is so awesome, led the majority of the meeting! He was a former “intelligence operative” for the United States Army in Vietnam and he mainly specializes in interrogation! It was so fun to watch him speak and teach tactics for understanding body language and what to do to make contacts feel more comfortable. It was so interesting and he is quite an engaging and interesting guy! So Zone Conference was really worth every minute!
And then that very same night, we went and had dinner with Diego (a recent convert) and his family. Well, what we didn’t know is that there was a miscommunication and Diego’s family thought the whole branch was coming over (or that’s what we think), but only four Elder’s showed up. We never asked, but we think that she thought a lot more people were coming over because she made so much food. So the four of us felt so badly that we decided that we couldn’t leave any “left-over” food so I ended up having to eat something like fifteen sandwiches. Thank goodness for all of those times I have challenged my stomach in the past with In-n-Out hamburgers because I was more full than I have ever been in my life. I guess that is a good problem to have though – ha! I didn’t want to eat anything for the rest of the week.
But the rest of the week was jam-packed with opportunities to eat though – ha! Later in the week, we participated in a wedding in the branch. Rodrigo, a member of the branch, was planning to marry his girlfriend Ashleigh who is not a member. Ashleigh has been investigating the church for a while now and decided that she wanted to get baptized but she needed to get married first so the missionaries put together a wedding for her. It was a great success and Rodrigo had some of the best-looking groomsmen ever (I was, of course, one of them).
Then Saturday evening, Ashleigh was baptized and then confirmed the following day in church. It was a very full weekend for her, but she is going to be one awesome member of the church! One really funny experience though was that we could not get the music to work right before the wedding ceremony and it was too late to stop Ashleigh from walking down the aisle so all the missionaries looked at each other all at once and started singing “da da dadum, da da dadum” as she walked down the aisle and everybody joined in too – ha! We felt badly afterwards, but she said she loved it and it was awesome and very unique.
On Sunday, when she was baptized it rained and when it rains on Sundays, it really affects normal missionary activities. We don’t purchase things on Sunday and we don’t go into any stores or restaurants on Sunday. So our options are to either stay outside or in somebody’s home. It’s good motivation I guess, but it stinks when nobody answers the door. What saved us that day was a man named Hugo who we have been working with for a while and who let us in. For some reason, it seems like a lot of Hispanic people are afraid of the rain because whenever it rains on Sunday our Sacrament Meeting numbers go way down and that’s the reason why Hugo didn’t come to church. But he let us in and we talked for a while and he is really progressing well. Before we invited him to church the first time, he had asked if he and his cousin could come (already doing missionary work). So we are excited for him.
It’s been a great week and I am really loving it here in Alabama. Everybody is getting ready for Thanksgiving, but more importantly Alabamians are getting ready for the “Iron Bowl.” People tell me that the state of Alabama shuts down on Iron Bowl Saturday. So happy Thanksgiving and also Happy Iron Bowl!!! Roll tide!!