Well, I'm just going to tell it like it is: this was probably the best week of my mission! It was definitely the most fun, funny, and even spirit and blessing-filled! Thanks so much for the letter/thank you note Ste, that was really nice and thoughtful! Thanks, too, for all of your concern with the events mentioned in the last email ;) haha. You rock. So the apartment we live in here is awesome; definitely the best I've lived in as well as seen out here. We all just sleep side by side in a room and there is room for my clothes and stuff in a couple extra closets that are there. I'm settled but not totally unpacked just because I'll wait to do that once we find out the happenings with the upcoming transfer call. So the way we do it in the New York Utica Mission is Zone Leaders are companions. There are 5 zones, so 10 in all - or currently 11. But it's awesome, I love it so much. Glad you got my package with random stuff; with that sent home because I didn't need it I was able to fit all of my things. I may be sending some more things home, though, in the future. We never wear 'casual clothes' because we are so busy going to other District Meetings and things that we don't do service that requires it really; or I suppose the need to have multiple days' worth. Anyway, the scarf was one I bought with Paige in Provo. The CD player and speaker I came out with, to be honest, I haven't used hardly at all, because every apartment already has a set up. But it's all good. It doesn't happen too, too often but you don't necessarily have to be a District Leader in order to be a Zone Leader. Elder Boyakin, one of my companions, for example, wasn't one before. In fact I don't think Elder Johnson was either. Ha. But it's awesome here. We drive a sickk 2010 Dodge Caravan. We rofl at ourselves at times but it really is nice and roomy. I did actually notice the Mark Mabry note on the picture right before you told me about it. That's so nice and awesome of him and I love it so much on my desk. Thanks again, hope it wasn't too much or too much of a hassle. I'm way good for music, too, for a while. Thanks so much for all the goodness but I'll be good for now. Fyi, Ste the picture you attached to your email didn't work; but that's awesome you had a good week! We get the Ensign out here and I read it in the very limited spare time I can find. It took me all of November and December to finish the Conference one though; so good! Also, I used my credit card to send that box home at the post office last Monday so look for that when the record comes in and do with it as you will. Occasionally, if you will, give me an update on my debit card, too please. Oh yeah, in the package you send could you please put in one of my hackysacks: the sand-filled kind, like my green and yellow one? Thanks.
So this week was incredible. Seriously we had so much fun. Tripanionships are the best. And what's been best is we all know how to use the on and off switch for having fun/being goofy and being serious and inviting the Spirit. Really good. So Sandra was baptized on her 25 birthday on Saturday in Saratoga Springs! It was such a great service, the Spirit was so strong there! I'm so glad I was able to go and attend. She was so happy and loved it all! I'll attach pictures. Elders Stratton and Kitchen seem to be doing pretty well. E. Kitchen is way trunky about his previous mission in Africa and stuff; ie. wearing his old French tags, etc. It will really stretch E. Stratton but I know he can do it and will learn so much from the experience. I'm banking on probably staying here in Albany for a while. I can't believe I've still never been with a companion for 2 transfers. Crazy. Anyway, the teaching pool here is so good - and growing!! We were blessed to find 4 new investigators this week! A husband of a member. A Jamaican couple who one was a Head Quarter referral for a Bible - sweetest people ever! And a 20 year old girl who we tracted into earlier in the week and taught last night and set with a Baptismal date! She is such an honest seeker of truth! We also set another baptismal date last night of a middle-aged woman. So so sweet! We have other investigators we are planning on setting with dates this week as well! In short just know that I am loving Albany, loving my companions, loving being a Zone Leader, and loving it all. I look forward to what the week ahead has in store!
I hope you have a great week and that you all continue on the path of righteousness! There isn't anything better or more important! I love you all so much and thank you for all of the support you offer me.
PS- the pictures. That is our first presidency pic. I am Utchdorf. Note the faces compared with the real one, nice. Next is Sandra's baptism! E. Kitchen on left, Phil Brewer Sandra's brother which is how we found her and started teaching. So cool and crazy how it all played out!
Sorry so short on time, hope my email uplifts you all and you can feel my love and appreciation for you all!