Sunday, March 16, 2014

From Down Under (March 16, 2014)

Hello all! Greetings from my first P-day in the land down under!

Australia is great! I'm serving in the Point Cook area, which is about an hour and a half west of Melbourne itself. The neighborhoods around here are quite nice (or "flash" as the Aussies say) and the people are really great. I live in a flat with another companionship of sisters, which is super fun. Our flat definitely needs a deep clean so hopefully we'll get to that today. 

My companion, Sister Leota, is awesome! She's from New Zealand but her family is Samoan. She only has a few months left on her mission! She's super nice and funny and so warm and so good to me. The sisters here call each other "Sis" or "Soa," which is Samoan for "companion." Sister Leota sometimes calls me "little flock" because my favorite scripture is D&C 6:34. Look it up! ;)

We have been so busy this week, but hardly any of what we've done has been real bonafide missionary work. We've had a district meeting, a service project with members, lots of meals with less actives and other members, splits with the Relief Society presidency, and a temple trip! I loved being able to go to the temple so early in my mission, even though it probably means that I only get to go two more times. The drive from my area to the temple is about an hour and a half without traffic, but we ran into some crazy traffic in the city so it took a little over two hours. 

Oh, and did I mention that I'M DRIVING?! My companion doesn't have her full license so she's not allowed to drive, but apparently having an American license qualifies you to drive on your first day. So I drive to my first area on my very first day in Australia. It was pretty terrifying, but we're still alive and haven't gotten super lost yet, so I'd say we're doing pretty well. The roads here are super narrow and the stoplights are in different places than in America, not to mention that they drive on the wrong side of the road here. It's an adventure every day.

The people in my area are just so wonderful! Nearly everyone is an islander or their family is from the islands, so the culture is really different from what I'm used to. Everyone is so warm and welcoming! All the sisters greet us with a hug and a kiss on the cheek, even if we've just barely met! The food is pretty interesting, too. On my very first night we went to a homecoming dinner for a girl in our district who just came home from her mission, and there was so. much. food!!! Aaaaaand a whole pig. An entire, roasted, head and ears still attached, pig, just hanging out on the counter. And we went to a luau at the church on Saturday, and there was another entire pig!! It freaked me out so much, but everyone else seemed to love it. Everyone eats tons of food, too, so they look at me funny if I don't fill my entire platter-sized dinner plate and always ask if I've had enough to eat even if I'm full to bursting. I haven't been properly hungry in the last week because everyone feeds us so much!

People here eat a TON of meat, which is an interesting experience for little vegetarian me. The members are all really accommodating and willing to put an extra salad on the table or cook fish as well as chicken. On Saturday, though, we had lunch at a less active sister's house with two of the other sets of elders in our district, and she cooked us steak. And not just regular sized steaks, either. They were "massive as" (as they say here...I'm still not sure quite what they are as massive as...) rump steaks that she just hacked off a giant hunk of cow and threw on the grill. She seemed like someone who would probably get offended if I didn't eat her I ate my steak. Oh, man. It was the first red meat I've eaten in YEARS, and it made me so sick! I was nauseous for the next day and a half. Now even the smell of meat makes me feel queasy. So, no more meat for me.

We spent a lot of time this week the the Ta'ala family. They have been less active for a long time, but are coming back to church and working towards getting their family sealed in the temple!! They fed us twice this week, and we got to talk with them about the importance of family and temple covenants. Sister Ta'ala is quitting smoking so she can go to the temple! They've had to completely change their lives for the gospel, and I admire their sacrifice and dedication so much.

We only did a little bit of tracting this week, and all of it was totally unsuccessful. Hopefully next week we'll be able to do some more finding and get us some investigators!

I love you all! Best wishes to everyone back home! The church is true!


Sister Larsen

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