Very true. Peoria has been welcoming.
Peoria is northwest of Phoenix North where I was.
My last area was sort of split. They used to cover two wards - North Mountain and Bethany Home. They added another set of missionaries to cover North Mountain exclusively and then gave Sister Vallejo another English ward - Moon Valley - that they took away from the Spanish elders. So now there are 3 districts in Phoenix North. I was so devastated to not still be in the zone that I almost didn't notice when President Taylor called our names to serve in Peoria.
So yes, I'm in Peoria now. My companion's name (as I'm sure you've seen on the blog) is Sister Barnett. She's from Cypress, Texas.
We took over two wards in the Peoria Stake from Elder Beck (who I served with in the MTC) and his companion. We live in a converted garage apartment adjoining their house. The elders didn't leave it a total wreck, so that was nice.
And I had to pay a dollar to use the computer in this public library since I didn't have any mail proving that I lived there. Just a hint ;)
We're driving a Chevy Cruze now. Still got a great turning radius, and it's a beautiful dark blue like the Suburban was. We need to call the office today and see how many miles we have, because we're already over 500 (from what the elders who had the car before us did) and our area is only like 3 miles by 3 miles. So... I don't know what to tell Elder Rodgers, the vehicle coordinator. .And I keep getting lost. And my companion doesn't have a bike yet (thank you Dad for getting me one before I got here). We'll see.
Transfer meeting was very interesting again. I don't know why President thinks I can train. I'm having great difficulties in a new area with a new companion. I'm just trying to take an hour at a time. Or 10 minutes at a time. Whichever's easiest. But anyway. Something interesting that happened at transfer meeting was that we had just finished introducing all the new missionaries and sitting down when President stands up and starts to talk. I don't remember what he said, but basically he got down to showing us something. He asked all of us missionaries who have been out longer than a day to stand up if we'd ever felt alone, that the work was too hard, that we were inadequate, that nothing seemed to be working out, that we weren't sure what else we could do, etc. All of us were standing. It was a pretty emotional couple of minutes. President then just assured us that when we feel alone, we can know that we never actually are.
After transfer meeting, we ran around the parking lot talking to people and trying to track down a car, area books, the phone for our area, etc. It was really hard to say bye to my last zone. Really hard. We finally got it all together and our zone leaders helped us move into our new place. We met the old couple we're living with, and he took us around a tour of the place. We have like every type of grapefruit tree in our backyard. Literally. We sat down and looked at the area books, called our bishops and ward mission leaders so we could meet with them that night, and basically just tried to get things figured out. We did a bit of grocery shopping and ate too because, understandably, the elders hadn't left us much.
Something that has been really neat about this area, though, is how much everyone loves Elder Beck. They were all really sad to hear that he'd left, so thankfully the novelty of having sisters in the area rather than elders will hold off their sorrow for a while. But it got me thinking about the last couple of days in the MTC - we were all really nervous to head out to the field. I think Trenton will remember the breakdown I had right in the middle of the cafeteria actually when I said bye to him and started crying in front of everyone. Not appropriate. But anyway, Elder Beck seemed more down than the rest of us. He just wasn't sure that he'd be able to be a missionary, if he'd made the right decision, if he was going to be successful at all. Typical, but hard to watch with him. He really seemed to consider calling it all off. So, a little over a year later, it's amazing to come into his area and see just how much incredible work he's done. All the members have raved about him so far. He has become a marvelous missionary.
Our church building is the same layout as the Pflugerville building. That's weird. Someone asked me if I knew Richard Jamison since I was from Austin haha. Which I did! Sort of. Apparently he and the younger Brother Jamison had served together in Zimbabwe (please check the spelling on that one). There are tons of connections everywhere. The wards are very missionary-minded - they have multiple guests at church every week and are really excited to have us here. There was an incredible baptism in one of our wards this past weekend that Elder Beck was able to come back for. Very spiritual. We have a few people already to teach (what a blessing!) and have some more potentials we need to look into. We're just trying to get the hang of things.
Bishop McNeil in my last area bought me a digital video recorder as my going-away present. I've been recording into it as my journal entry every night. It's been really neat because I get so much more out of it. Now I need to remember to write in my real journal too just in case something happens to it. That's been really nice.
I'm going to email President Taylor now. Lots to do today (mostly cleaning and sleeping - I can't believe how tired I am).
LOVE Y'ALL SO MUCH. Missed you a lot at church yesterday, but then the thought came to mind of how much Heavenly Father misses all of His family too and what a joy it is to be part of bringing them back to Him.
Have a great week.
Love, Sister Parks