A few things from Zack's handwritten letter on August 12 -- My companion is Elder Borries from North Carolina. He's 21 and is in the military school in Virginia. Our area is fairly small, called Arroyo, on the south east end of the island. We're in a house with 2 other Elders so that's cool.
Email received Aug. 17 --
Lots of stuff has gone on this week. It's been an intense 10 days. I wasn't able to email on Tuesday like Hermana Romney promised us we would be able to do when we got to our areas so that was lame and I'm sorry I said I would get an email out to you guys. Entonces, my spanglish es muy bien hahaha like that's basically what I speak. The flight to PR was only like 35 minutes but the pre-flight stuff was so funny. We got to the airport at like 9.30 and the flight left at 11. Some guys decided that they were gonna go out through the airport and 'preach' to people. So these two missionaries went off and started talking to a group of Baptist youth and their pastor or minister. They talked for awhile and then the pastor talked more and started fighting them about how he thinks that we have added on to the Bible with the Book of Mormon. They tried to explain that it's just another record of Christ and that it's not an addition, but is a record of a whole other people. He wasn't buying that, so it just became a Bible bashing fight. It went on for awhile longer then they came back to the group of missionaries and we all scolded them for Bible bashing and all that. But the flight, that was amazing. Only 35 minutes, basically up and down. But the views were so cool. It's just such a beautiful place and pictures really don't do it justice. When we landed, President Boucher hugged all the Elders and took us out to these 2 huge white vans hahaha it was kinda weird but as we were walking out of the airport, I had my 3 bags and he comes up and says, "look elder I know you're a stallion, but let me take one of those bags from you". He's such a joker and has a really cool sense of humor. Reminds me of dad a little. Before going to the mission home, we went to a huge castle on the coast that has like 5 floors. We were only able to stay for like 15 minutes, but the views are just amazing. I have pictures of that as well.
That night, we got our trainers and went to our areas. My area is Arroyo, on the very SE corner of the island. It's one of the hottest places, but we do have a beautiful coast. It's extremely flat and dry and they've had a drought for like 9 months or something. But I'll get to that in a minute. Wednesday and Thursday were basically like show the area to your greenie days and I met some really cool people. Most speak all Spanish, but then sometimes you find some who speak a little English or will try to speak to you in English. Like one member is Alex and he served a mission in the Bronx and is super cool and we're gonna go play soccer with him today. Super cool guy.
I have actually been speaking quite a bit of spanish, but everyone in the house speaks English so I don't get TONS of practice, but I have given a few lessons in Spanish and Elder Borries said they were really good. I'm beginning to be able to understand more of the people, but they speak so fast and drop words and letters and talk quietly and it's all really complicated. But it's getting better. And I think I'll be fluent faster than a lot of other elders have been.
Anyways, Friday was fun because we had a Zone meeting in Guayama which is like an hour away and we didn't have a car. So some other elders were supposed to come down and get us to go at 10 because it started at 11. But they didn't arrive at the house until 11, so we were soooo late. But we were flying on the way there. And I won't tell you how fast we were going but those Toyota Corollas were really pushin'. (The traffic laws aren't enforced very well when you get into the middle of nowhere like we are haha). We got there in 40 minutes and they hadn't even started, so we actually made it on time. After the meeting we were given a car for us to drive home, but it had battery problems so we had to go to Pep Boys. It took forever so we went to lunch at Fuddruckers and that was sooooo amazing and delicious. Florez got a 1 lb patty and ate it all and I was amazed. So we really didn't do anything on Friday. We are only allowed to use the car for meetings and stuff, not for proselyting which kinda stinks. Saturday was cool because it rained for the first time in months. And it POURED. Elder Borries and I were contacting less actives in a neighborhood like 30 minutes from home when it began to pour and we were soaked when some guys yelled for us to come sit under their porch. So we began to talk to them and they said that they would read our pamphlet about the Restoration and then call us back if they wanted to meet. When we left, we both said that we didn't think that they would call. But 15 minutes later we were walking home and they called and said that they wanted to meet. So the rain was super helpful that day! We also had another lucky event when we went to visit the mom of Jose, who's a youth in a different ward who is prepping to put in his papers. We were about to leave their house and walk back into the rain when they pulled up and we were able to talk with them and set up an appointment to teach his mom, who was never baptized (Jose lives with his grandparents who are members in Guayama). So the rain totally helped us. Sunday was cool because the branch usually has about 20 people come on Sundays, but yesterday there were 35 people in Sacrament meeting. It was so cool. Borries said that it's because we have a greenie. But really it's most likely because we got a new branch president that everybody likes and will really turn the branch around. Things are looking really bright for this area right now . It continued to pour and thunder as we walked home so we were soaked and ended up spending the evening at home because nobody was out or home to talk to and it was super unsuccessful and so we played board games all night and planned for the next couple days. We have a lot of lessons lined up so hopefully our numbers will be going way up.
Elder Holland came to a mission conference like 4 months ago and he said that Puerto Rico is one of the hardest missions on the earth. This is mostly because people get baptized and then move to the US, so our numbers look kind of negative after awhile. And people are just very strong in their own religions.
So I bought some clippers from Walgreens the other day and this morning I cut my hair for the first time and it turned out great so I'm definitely doing that all the time.
We do not have iPads.
Aaaaaand that's about it. All letters and packages can go to the mission home-
Urb. Jardines de Caparra
500 Calle Marginal Norte
Bayamon, Puerto Rico
That's really all I've got right now. I hope that everything is going well for everyone at home. The church is true and missionary work is energizing. It truly is the Lord's work and it is fun. It's energizing. And I love it.
Love you all!
Elder Borries and I in the middle of a huge rainstorm. Luckily we found a pavilion to take shelter under.