Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Worst Night of My Life

Dear Family, 

It´s been a crazy week. I am pretty sure yesterday was the worst day of my life. I think God must be punishing me for being more excited about costco than about missionary work. Something like that. 

I REALLY love Sevilla. It´s enormous. There are 16 missionaries in this city, and just my area alone is bigger than the entire city of Jerez, and Almeria, and Elche. I could spend an hour and a half walking and I might get from one end to the other. My areas in elche and almeria were tiny so I am not used to walking this much. The elders here are in a bad habit of wasting time traveling. The chapel is about an hour away, on bus. So for example, we had correlation meeting on saturday. We left our piso at five and didn´t get back to our area until about 8:30. How ridiculous is that?? I found out this morning that there is a faster way, but the elders here before weren´t really concerned too much with saving time. But still, either way we have to waste a lot of time traveling. There´s not really much we can do. I am trying to convince the office to let us move. We don´t even live in our own area. We have to walk a half hour every day just to get to our own area. Plus our piso is super old and gross, and the church is paying WAY too much for this piso. So we are just waiting on the go ahead to look for a new piso. 

Sevilla is hot. But it´s SOOO different than Elche. I really didn´t realize just how humid Elche was until I got here. Everyone here is practically dying because of the heat, and I feel great. Seriously. It´s weird to hear others complain about the heat, cause that´s usually my job. It´s just like Arizona. Just a dry, baking heat. After elche, I can take anything. So that is definitely a little tender mercy. 

So why was yesterday the worst day of my life? Well on Friday I started feeling a little sick. It felt like strep was coming on. I woke up on Saturday and it felt like there was a golf ball in my throat, but after a few hours, motrin, and some spice of life I was feeling ok to work. Then I come home on Saturday and my head starts killing me. So I go to bed and have the WORST night of my life. It was like I had a bloody nose for 8 hours, but it wasn´t blood that was coming out. I felt awful. I go to church on Sunday morning and by that time I was just dying. My nose had stopped running, but I could barely speak because my throat hurt so much and my eyes were huge and puffy and red and swollen and literally did not stop leaking water. So everyone thought I had been up crying all night. Until they heard me speak and realized that I was deathly ill. Church was just the worst. I had to try and put a smiling face on and greet all of the members for the first time and then they ask me to get up and introduce myself during sacrament meeting, so I had to do that. Elder Love told me that I looked like I had just snorted some cocaine. I was sneezing and crying and I sounded like a 70 year old smoker. For some reason I decided to fast yesterday as well, so on top of everything else, I was literally starving. And then I find out that after church, we have ward council meeting. So I was at church for about four hours. And then we waited in the hot sun for our bus, and embarked our hour long bus ride to get home. And we got home around 3:30-4:00. We ate, and I was just getting worse. I just started to cough up a storm and my head started pounding and my nose turned into niagra falls and then I got this weird sinus pressure on the bridge of my nose and to top it all off, I broke out with a fever. The whole hot chills type thing. Yeah. It was a fun day. I don´t think I have ever been that sick in my entire life. I just laid in bed all day unable to sleep just miserable. It was the first time in my mission that I have ever not been able to work. I called the mission nurse that night and she suggested that I go to the ER, but Spanish Emergency Rooms are the biggest joke on the planet, so I told her it wasn´t necessary. I took some nyquil last night with a ton of ibruprofen and was able to sleep through the night alright. I feel ok now. My throat still hurts and I have a cough. And I still feel like I have a fever because of the hot chills that I get, but I am on dayquil so it´s manageable. The nurse is going to get me a doctor´s appointment. So yeah. It´s been fun. I am sure I made a wonderful impression on the members here :P 

And I lost my wallet. On Wednesday. I know that was divine punishment for the whole costco thing. I literally can´t do anything because I am broke. I lost everything. My social security card wasn´t in there. I don´t even have my social security card here with me in Spain. But everything else is gone. It´s actually really quite sad. I don´t think there is any worse feeling than that pit in your stomach once you realize that you´re on a train to Sevilla and your wallet is back on a bus in Malaga. I am usually SUPER paranoid about losing stuff. I think Kylie rubbed off on me because I feel like I am constantly checking to make sure I have everything. But this last transfer was just insane because my bus got there in Malaga and I had 15 minutes to get from the bus station to the train station to catch my train, and I was trying to make it. But I have WAY too much stuff and I couldn´t carry all of my luggage by myself. I was doing it alright, but then my largest suitcase just fell apart. A wheel fell off and after that, all hope was lost. So I missed my train. I had to wait there in Malaga for a few hours. And somehow in those three hours I never realized that I didn´t have my wallet. Everyone else was buying food at Burger King but I decided to be frugal and eat the food that my two best friends gave me. Dumb decision. If I had tried to eat BK, I would have realized that I didn´t have any money and I could have tried to run back to the bus station. 

The only positive thing about that fateful day was that I was reunited with Hermanas Rawle and Reed!!!!! WOOO!! Hermana Reed was with me on the bus to Malaga. She was with me in Elche and she left at the same time. She dies in one transfer and she will spend her last transfer in Malaga in the same district as Hermana Rawle. They are best friends. They served three transfers together in Elche. And now they are together again. So not fair. I was feeling rather bitter about it for a while. A lot of zone leaders ¨went down¨ this transfer (went back to being normal missionaries?) and one of them is going to THAT SAME DISTRICT. I could EASILY have just switched this guy places and served with my two best friends. Ugh. That´s ok though. God must want me here in Sevilla. Hermanas Rawle and Reed are the best. They´re going to be there at the airport when we get home. Rawle is from Utah, goes to BYU, and Reed is from CA and goes to BYU Idaho. 

I am glad to be in Sevilla though. Proctor is a good guy. Super tranquilo. Just very relaxed and go with the flow. Sometimes I feel like I am companions with a turtle. I try to haul it in the streets to make our travel time go faster, but he is just content as can be to walk at his own pace super far behind me. So I just have to go his pace. I like him a lot. But we have different styles of working. We get along really well though. He´s super funny. He reminds me a little bit of Tean, just by his sense of humor and personality. Just a super super calm, relaxed version of Teano. He´s my first companion from Utah. He´s from Kearns. 

Other than that, it´s just normal. The work is alright. I am super super motivated to change this area. We have three baptismal fechas right now. It´s a family of HondureƱas. They´re pretty cool. We´ll see what happens. I am a little worried because I feel like they don´t understand very well. We´re going to try our best though. They don´t have hardly any investigators here. We spend a lot of time with members and recent converts. Which is important. But we just waste a lot of time. I don´t want to make Proctor change the way he´s been doing things though. He´s only six weeks younger than me. So it´s kind of a difficult position. But we´re just doing to do the best we can for these next five weeks. And then Proctor will leave and I get to TRAIN. YAY!!! I am not a zone leader anymore. Which really is fine. I have wanted to train again ever since my second transfer in Elche, and President told me that after six weeks here I´ll be training, along with a ton of other ex zone leaders. So I am pretty excited about that. I am a District Leader right now. My zone leaders are Rasmussen and Love. They are like six months younger than me. But that´s alright. Everyone should have a chance to be ZL, and I really love both of them. I am not going to be the type of missionary that, after having been a leader, doesn´t respect his leaders in the mission just because they are younger than him. I think that´s the stupidest thing in the world. And yet it happens a lot here. 

I did a lot of self reflection as I laid in bed yesterday and coughed my lungs out. I really want to end my mission well. I feel like I focus too much on myself. I feel like my motivation for working is too much about self recognition than it is about helping other people. I feel like almost every missionary has that problem. It´s hard not to. But I am going to strive to find my motivation from a sincere desire to bless the lives of others. Lately I am constantly thinking about turning outward instead of inward. Being deathly ill at the chapel and yet, instead of wallowing in pain and self pity, trying to focus on other people and their needs and feelings. IT´S HARD. I feel like I have such a long ways to go. I don´t know if I have changed too much as a person out here. I hope so. But I think you´re totally right mom. It´s a constant effort. It´s enduring to the very end. It´s not something that just magically happens because of a mission. Sure it helps, but it takes more than a lifetime to acheive all of that. One decision at a time, one day at a time. 

I still haven´t been to costco yet. I can´t go in until I have a card. And I can´t buy a card until I have money. But there are no rules about it. President Deere drives three hours to go grocery shopping in costco, so he would definitely not have any problems with us doing it. The goal is to go next monday. I literally dream about kirkland. We had zone meeting this week and there is a senior couple in our zone. They brought kirkland ice cream and those costco brownie bite things for after zone meeting. I don´t think words could explain the way that I felt. It has been over 17 months since I have tried ice cream like that. They simply don´t have it here. The ice cream here is super thin and weird. It´s not gross or anything. It tastes good. But there is no comparison. NO FLIPPING COMPARISON. The thick, rich, vanilla bean costco ice cream was such a beautifully american experience that I have needed for so long. I chopped up my brownie things and mixed it into my ice cream cold stone style. Yeah. It was pure bliss. I can´t wait to go. 

I have to use my companion´s money for everything. So that´s kind of awkward. He eats like crap. I have eaten really badly for the past three months. But all I do here is eat spaghetti. Meat, CANNED mushrooms, processed tomato sauce, and noodles. Every day. The members don´t invite the missionaries over to eat here. Which is odd. I hardly ever ate at home in Elche. I am getting chubby. Just in my gut and face. My jawline is hard to see. It´s sad. But it´s time for 6 months to sexy. So I am ready to start. Proctor loves running, so as soon as my body lets me we´re going to go running in the mornings. And as soon as I have money I am going to buy healthy food. That of course doesn´t mean that I won´t enjoy costco to the utmost, because I will. I think that if I ate more fruits and vegetables, and exercised, I would be totally fine. 

I can´t believe I am finally coming around on my last six months. I obviously still have about 7 left, but still. It´s so crazy to me. I am the oldest one in my district now. It´s a weird feeling. 

As for travel plans, we can do whatever we want. President Deere is relaxed about pretty much everything. I really wanted to go to the harry potter castle in london, so I am glad that you are all on board as well. I just want to visit Sevilla, Jerez, Almeria, and Elche (and one area more), and then go to Madrid. We don´t have to. But it would be cool to see the temple there and visit the city. And yes Paris would be a must. And London. But you´re all in charge, really. Just so you know, I made a friend from Cork, Ireland. Her name is Peg Wynn, and she invited me to her house in Ireland to eat lamb and potatoes after my mission. She says it´s absolutely beautiful. So if you´re interested in visiting Ireland, I have already got some connections ;) 

Yeah it kills me that my brothers don´t appreciate it either. I talked about this for a while with Hermana Reed on the bus. It´s super important to me that my kids have a love for Harry Potter. I decided that we´re going to read it every night as a family. One chapter from the BoM, one from Harry Potter. Ya gotta start ´em out young. I think it also means that I need to add another quality on my future wife list. ¨abiding love for the gospel....and for harry potter.¨ Just kidding. Kind of. 

I loved reading about your week. I love your long emails mom. And dad´s was pretty long this week as well. I miss you guys a ton. Sorry for causing you more problems. Seriously, it bothers me so much that I lost my wallet. I will be extra careful from now on. I think it´s hysterical about Lincoln and his boat obsession. So great. 

And yes mother, you have been talking to us about all of that from the beginning. It´s something that is on my mind a lot, and I would thank you and Dad for giving us lots and lots of council and advice for when it comes to that decision. I feel like we are all much more prepared than the normal person to make decisions like that. Because you guys started us out young. I know what I want, and what is important, and what is dangerous. So you do deserve a pat on the back. 

Well I have typed for a while now. Thanks for your support. You´re the best. I love you a ton. Let´s hope that I get better soon so that I can start working!!! I am really excited for this transfer. And to start working out and eating better. And to find new people to teach. It´s going to be great! 

love, preston

Monday, August 4, 2014

Can I Get an I Love Kirkland?

Dear Family, 

I am SOOOO TIRED!!!! And a little sad. I am leaving Elche. My humid, hot, desert paradise of palm trees. I have really loved my time here. And my next destination is.....

SEVILLA!!!!!!! Or, in other words, hell. It´s one of the hottest cities in Europe, and the hottest city in Spain. And the two hottest months of the year are August and September. I lucked out, didn´t I?? The good thing is that it´s SUPPOSEDLY not humid there. They say that it´s a dry heat. So that will be nice. Basically just spending two months as a missionary in Arizona. So that´s cool. My companion is called Elder Proctor. He is only a transfer younger than me. I don´t know him very well. Nobody knows him very well, actually. Apparently the area I am going to is suffering a lot. They literally taught three investigator lessons last week. So it sounds like we´ll be starting from zero. YAY!! No really though, I am excited. It will be a growing experience. 

Sevilla is the third largest city in Spain I think. Madrid is the biggest, and it has three stakes. Barcelona is second, and it has 2 stakes. Malaga is TINY compared to Sevilla, and it has five wards in it. Sevilla, although it´s enormous, has only two wards. So my area will be HUGE. Sevilla went through a time of apostasy, so it´s nowhere near as big as it should be. For some reason they don´t baptize a lot there. Every once in a while of course. But it should be better. The mission headquarters used to be there, but they moved it to Malaga. I am excited. It is my first time being in a large city. I am actually kind of nervous. Jerez, Almeria, and Elche are all rather small cities. Sevilla is probably much bigger than all of them put together. But it´ll be cool. Lots of culture there. Alright....time for the reason for which I am most excited to go to Sevilla.....



It is THE ONLY COSTCO in all of Europe!!! Except for England of course. I honestly start tearing up when I think about it. There is just so much nostalgia and emotion that wells up inside of me when I think about Costco and how I will be there just ONE WEEK from today. I honestly do not deserve all of the blessings that my Father in Heaven gives me. He´s the best. For those of you that might be saying that it´s different than the American stores, you´re mistaken. According to President and Hermana Deere, all of the senior couples, and all of the missionaries serving in Sevilla, it is almost EXACTLY the same as an american costco. YEP. Can I get an I LOVE KIRKLAND!!!!!!!anyone??? KIRKLAND everything. The other day when I went to the mission home I ate KIRKLAND brand salsa and KIRKLAND brand chocolate coverd almonds and KIRKLAND brand peanut butter pretzels..........AND KIRKLAND BRAND CHOCOLATE FREAKING MUFFINS!!! YESSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!! I am so incredibly lucky. Hermana Deere drives like three hours just to go to Costco. So yeah. You might say that I am somewhat looking forward to it. 

But, in order to make all of my wildest dreams come true, I am going to need a costco card...I can apply for one here. I mean, I will only be in Sevilla for 4 months. I will go to my last area on December 12. But still. The only way they let you in is if you go with someone who has a card. I don´t know if any missionaries have cards or not, but I was wondering if you could send me one....or would it be easier if I just applied for one here? They work internationally btw. Just let me know what you think. Best part- my son happens to be in Sevilla right now as well. Elder Erickson. And he happens to be in a car assigned area. So he´s going to do his daddy a favor and take me to costco. 


Alright. Anything else exciting happen this week? Well my hermanas are dying. The first one to die is Hermana Nielsen, the girl who was there at the airport when I was balling my eyes out saying goodbye to all of you. She goes home on Wednesday (she´s going home a transfer early for school and her brother´s wedding). And then in two weeks, practically all of my other hermanas go home to get to school. And in six weeks, all of them will offically be dead. In four weeks, I start my six month countdown. The greatest part of your mission from what I hear. I don´t know how it can get any better than this, but apparently it does. It´s weird to think that we started together and that they are all dying. Hey, just barely realized this- today officially makes seven months left. SO WEIRD. 

Your week sounds about as luxurious as ever during the summer time. I swear, those kids SERIOUSLY don´t understand how good they have it. I laughed my head off when I read about Quincey and Lincoln fighting over who gets to put their head on your lap during sacrament meeting. They both better start getting used to the reality that, once I return home, I am putting myself into that rotation as well ;)  

It´s been a good week. It flew by. The weeks always do with concilio. On Saturday we went to Felix´s house to have a good bye barbaque. It was cool. I will try and send photos. The stake president was there. He´s like my hero. He´s so awesome. The youngest stake president in all of europe. He´s only 33. I admire him a lot. He is probably the most driven and organized person I hae ever met. I don´t know how he does it all. He has SOOO many responsibilities and he juggles all of it. I am sure that man has divine help constantly. He has to do all of the house work because his wife has really bad pregnancies and was bed ridden for nine months (she just had the baby recently and is now getting back on her feet), and so he cooked, cleaned, took care of all of the children, worked a full time job, studied, and fulfilled all of his many responsibilities as stake president. He´s INCREDIBLE. I consider myself very blessed for being able to get close to him. He lives in our ward and I see him a lot, plus he is super close to Felix. His wife Cynthia is awesome too. Spaniards can just be so awesome sometimes. 

Well I am about out of time. Andrea looked SOOOO mormon yesterday at church!!! Usually everyone here wears dresses that push the modesty line a ton. SIDENOTE I have put my foot in my mouth so many times when it comes to some comments that slip out of me about modesty in the church in spain. (the stake president and his wife agree with me though, that´s what counts) But anyway, so everyone wears short skirt dresses and stuff, but yesterday Andrea came in a dress that was just perfectly modest and elegant and I was just so proud of her. She´s so awesome. Gabriela her cousin came back from Belgium so she has been here too. It´s been really cool. We´re still working on convincing Nayeli´s parents to let her get baptized. I wish I could have been here to see it. That´s ok though. 

I am really excited to start over in Sevilla. It will be perfect for me. I know that it´s just what I need. 

Well I need to go. We are having our last zone pday, because pretty much every companionship is being changed. So we´re going ICE SKATING and then to a 50s american diner. We´ll see how american it really is. Anyway. I love you all