HELLO FROM CALIFORNIA
ahhhhh i love it here oh my gosh i have so much to tell you all.
okay. well let me start off with... i keep forgetting im in america... enserio. EVERYONE speaks spanish. everyone is latino. the other day someone started speaking english and i was like what oh yeah im in america. so yeah. the only people i speak english to is other missionaries. but i cant really speak spanish.. so im kind of quiet around all the members and investigators. but my comp says that i speak way better than she did when she first got here.. and i understand pretty much everything. like i almost always know whats going on. and everyone is so impressed by that. but my problem is that i am too scared to speak... like i will be listening and know whats going on but i am too scared to say it because im too scared that i will mess up and make a fool out of myself. so i need to get over that. but ive been doing better! ill tell more throughout this email.
So I made it here alright. it was scary being alone in mexico, but i made it. and going through customs in phoenix wasnt that bad.. heavenly father was helping me because my second flight got delayed so i didnt miss it.. and i also didnt get randomly picked for anything. then when i got to oakland i didnt know who to look for but luckily this nice man saw me and told me where he saw an older missionary waiting for me. so i got it. then i had burger king and it was the most amazing thing i have eaten in my entire life... oh man guys... i missed american food. wow it was so good. hahaha anyway then we went to the mission home where i met the 18 other new missionaries. so 19 missionaries came on wednesday.. 18 from provo mtc and me from mexico. hahah but there were two other spanish speakers.. but they are latinas so they already know spanish. but i spent the day with them and they are so nice!!
so in our mission there are 10 mission languages.... but there are about 75 languages spoken in the boundaries of my mission. what. yeah. i am seriously in the place with the most culture variety. except my area is all mexicans but whatever. haha anyway. there are missionaries from about 30 different countries. just in our group of 19 there were only 4 from the us.. two of those were latinas that were origionally from mexico.. then there were people from tonga, and an elder who is tongan from new zealand.. yeah imagine a tongan zew zealand accent for a second. so cool. there was also a tongan sister from australia. what. and some from hong kong. and i cant remember where else. yeah i am in the coolest mission hands down. but yeah so then we had amazing taco soup and then we met our trainers!!!
I have the best trainer in the entire world. heavenly father answered my prayers. she is amazing. Her name is Hermana Cefalo, and she is from clearfield utah! i love her! shes been out 10 months and loves the mission. her spanish is awesome. she gives me hope that i can do this. but yeah she is so helpful and i love her so much. and also... here is the best part. YOU REMEMBER ARACELI ARELLANO!? shes the girl that i met before my mission.. that we went to the temple together and stuff.. and we were hoping we would actually see each other on the mission.... SHE IS IN MY DISTRICT. okay our district is just the missionaries assigned to the concord 4 branch. two sets of sisters and one set of elders. hermana arellano is in the other companionship. oh man i was so excited. when my trainer came up in front of all the new people she said "okay so hermana stokes everyone in our area already knows about you because hermana arellano talks about you all the time.. and everyone knows you by your first name so sorry if that slips out. but shes really excited to see you." hahaha it was awesome. and she was right. everyone that meets me is like hermana stokes ive heard about you!! glad you are here!! its soooo funny oh my. even some of the members know. hahah i love it. so yeah its so fun seeing hna arellano every day. we have a lot of fun together. its great seeing a familiar face!
so yeah I am in concord... and you guys are gonna laugh... so you know how oakland is perfect weather?? welllllll the east side of our mission is HOTTTTTT. and guess where concord is. yep. the east side. yeah. still not even the farthest east... but yes it is so hot here. yesterday when we were walking around... man. i was dying. hahaha but its okay, because as much as i hate the heat... it is so worth it. the people are so worth it. i love this area so much.oh plus im in a car. man. i love it... i wish you could all understand how amazing these people are. I love the branch. yesterday was the best. Okay.. I know why Heavenly Father called me to this mission. You know there were times where i am frusterated about the language. but i am so glad i am spanish speaking. because i love latinos. thats why heavenly father called me spanish.. because he knew i would love working with the latinos. i love it so much. they are amazing. yesterday meeting the branch was the best. everyone is so loving. they come and give a huge hug and the girls do the kiss thing that latinos do... why dont americans do this?? seriously it is the best i love it. ahhhh i just love these people.
But yeah.. what else. I am so happy here. I love it guys. i wish you could all serve missions because it is the most amazing experience. i love california. i miss everyone but i dont even have time to think about it because we are so busy. i love this work. i love everything. i love latinos so much. ive gotten so much better as the lessons go on!! yesterday i actually talked during a lesson and cefalo said that while i was talking to juan, carlos was looking at cefalo saying how impressed he was. haha because all the members know how it is and they know that im new... so they are always so impressed because i can actually understand! and then when i talk they think its cool. haha but i have osooooo much to learn.
okay cool experience oft the week. last night. so we went to visit our investigator juan. it was gonna be the first time i would meet him. he lives with carlos J.. who is a recently reactivated member.. so we still have to teach him until hes been active for 3 months. so. we get there and ask if juan is there. he says "no but im here" this is all in spanish obviously but yeah. then he tells us that he had a really bad day because he couldnt go to church and it made him feel terrible. and he really wanted us to come visit him but he didnt want to ask. and he texted us to see if it would put the idea in our mind. we then checked our phone and reallized he had texted us, we just didnt see it! he told us that he was praying for us to come and knows it was the spirit that brought us. cool huh. just wait it gets better. so we are teaching carlos j outside, when then juan shows up, the investigator. we start talkin to him. then dagoberto shows up. a less active. he starts testifying. THEN pablo y carlos p show up. both reactivated converts. they start testifying. we then had a 2 hour lesson with these four amazing men with amazing testimonies just testifying to juan how important it is to get baptized. how this gospel will change his life. it was amazing. every time juan said one of his doubts... one of the guys was just like no. and started testifying. because theyve all been there. they were all converts who used to be drug addicts. juan doesnt wanna get baptized because he doesnt want to give up his coffee. they all let him know how it is. even carlos p... WHO NEVER TALKS. who says he doesnt have a strong enough testimony to teach... he gave a 10 minute testimony. it was amazing oh my gosh. i was in awe. juan told us hes gonna give it a try.. try to stop coffee for a week... man i hope he gets baptized. i love him so much. so yeah... i wish you could understand how amazing it was. i cant even explain it. and the coolest part is that it ended up counting as a lesson! because even though we didnt have another women there for it to count.. we had three men with the m priesthood! so it counted! ah it was just amazing. soooo yeah... welllllll. thats it. i love it here.
i love the mission. i love all of you. anddddd i look forward to sharing more of my mission with you!!! love you all!!
DyC 63:47. end of story.
ps heres a picture of me and my trainer and the mish president.
my mission home address...
4945 Lincoln Way
Oakland, CA 94602
pps HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY!!! we watched fireworks from our window while planning(: i love america.
ppps my name is SO HARD for latinos. idk whyy. and no oneremembers it. i get stookes.. stocks... and most of all estokes. hahaha. super fun.