Thursday, July 12, 2012

Happy (late) 4th of July! It is officially Monsoon season!! It has been a crazy week with lots of little things going on!

On Wednesday (July 4th) we were trying to contact some of the YSA members and after three hours of going to all of their houses.......we had yet to find anyone who was actually home. Needless to say we were tired and discouraged, and then we noticed that the sky to the south over the bulk of Tucson was really dark and moving our way. All I could say was “wow!”  It was pretty cool; Elder Bradley told me that was a monsoon! So I turned on the van and headed that way....I was curious! It didn't take long for us to run into it, and we went from no rain at all to windshield wipers on full in about 400 yards! It was insane!! And that was only the beginning! We couldn't believe it! Pretty soon the road started to flood and within about fifteen minutes the water had risen above the curbs on about all of the roads! It was nuts!! That is the only time that there aren’t many cars on the road! There were only a few of us brave (stupid and out of our minds) enough to drive through the rivers! I really felt like I was driving through a river in our van! It was amazing! Good thing our van is a beast!! After a short time we did come to our senses and decided to get out of there! So we took the roads with the best drainage systems and went back to our apartment! We are safe and sound, don’t worry!  When we were heading back Elder Bradley said, "Wait till we get a bad one, there will be even more water!" Apparently the biggest rainstorm I've ever seen isn't even "a bad one"! The other crazy things about Monsoons, is that the entire storm was gone and the streets dry in about an hour and a half! And then came the humidity...... Wow it was crazy!

After that adventure, we headed up to the Mission Home for a BBQ!! For some reason still unbeknown to us, President Killpack invited our zone and only our zone over to his house and threw us a big BBQ! To fit in with the spirit of the 4th there was so much food and I felt so fat eating everything! “Now I don't normally eat a hamburger, a steak, and a brat.....but......It is 4th of July!” haha ;) It was really cool, we had our zone meeting after dinner in the front room and then President took us out on the deck and had us look over the whole city while he gave us training!  It was really cool as we were seeing the fireworks all over the city and listening to President!  It was a great experience! Even with all of that it still did not really feel like the 4th of July.  I've noticed holidays really aren't the same out here. It is then that you notice everything that is missing. It is those days where it becomes blatantly obvious that the fun and joy found in the holidays are really only because you have family and friends near. It was hard on me because the 4th is usually one of my favorites. But with the Monsoon and the BBQ/training at Presidents house it turned out to be an alright day. And Elder Bradley, Elder Barrot, Elder Seare, and Elder Field all got 4th of July packages so we had some fun with the stuff in there! I love my zone and I love my district! This is the best district I've had! I hope all of you had a great 4th of July!
President also fed Elder Bradley and me on Friday! We had a meeting for all of the people that do YSA that we went to and after President fed us again! But this time it was at the institute! It was interesting to see that almost all of the missionaries involved in YSA are the Zone leaders! I'm not sure why but that is how it is! It was a great meeting but it was also super long, it went for hours and hours!

So with the YSA, we are actually enjoying it quite a bit! On Sunday morning we decided to go to the YSA ward as well as the branch! So we went to our meetings and then went to Sacrament with the branch, then we did some welfare during the first half of Sunday school and then drove to the other side of Tucson (the institute on the University of Arizona campus) for the Sacrament meeting with the YSA. Then we drove back to the branch to do tithing and finish welfare and then drove back to the institute for Priesthood! It was crazy but we really enjoyed it! It was nice to sit in a meeting and not be responsible for anything going on! It was also nice to not have to be worried about every little thing that happened! We also met a lot of the people there and I really enjoy a lot of them! Some of them had us for dinner last night! There were about 12 people at that dinner and it was crazy! I forgot that dinners could be loud!! haha I didn't realize how much I was used to signing through the whole dinner! It was great to have dinner with all of them! It was great to hear experiences from their lives and realize that growing up down here is a lot different. The church is strong but it is still a lot different than Utah! But the gospel is the same and most of the members are the same no matter where you go! I love this gospel! I love being on this mission and though it is by far the hardest thing I have ever done! It is very rewarding and I love it!

The reason this email is late is because we had our P-day pushed back as we were asked to attend and usher a funeral yesterday. A fireman down here was killed in a hit and run and because he was a member they had the funeral at the stake center! It was huge! There were over 800 people there and about 200 hundred of them were fireman from all over Southern Arizona! It was really sad being that this man was only 25 years old but you could tell the amount of lives that he touched. It was a great mission experience as they spoke of the hope and joy that comes from the gospel and how we know that there is a better place! It was interesting to see the difference that the firemen do for funerals. There were about 25 fire trucks that joined the procession to the grave site and instead of a hearse they draped an American flag over the casket and put it on top of a fire truck! It was pretty impressive!
Well that was my week! Till the next one!
Elder Banner

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