Wow, there is so much I wanna tell you. It’s hard to say everything I wanna say through email, but I shall try nevertheless, haha. I am in the Brandon zone, specifically the Tampa Bay YSA ward. So what that means is that all day everyday the only area I go contacting in is the University of Southern Florida campus. For real though it’s the prettiest campus I’ve ever seen. Go look up pictures of it. Go bulls! I honestly love it. Being in the YSA ward is the best. We get to attend institute three times a week with investigators, go to FHE, have a fast feast, and go to this thing they call “The Bull Market” where we go on campus once a week and set up a booth for people to come talk to us. It’s so fun.
I love, love, love the young single adults too. Like more than half of them are converts and they have the strongest testimonies. Also, our home base, where we are if were not on campus, is the mission office. So I’m at the place we’ve looked up on Google oh so many times. (I can get packages and letters anytime)
So my companion is Sister Ward!!!!!!! Ahhh, you guys she is the best. For real, best trainer I could’ve asked for. I’m only her second Companion! So it’s new for both of us. She’s been here 5 months and is already training. That alone tells you how awesome she is. She’s from Rexburg Idaho (shout out to my girl Claire) and I just love her. We like the same music and she has really cute clothes that she’s willing to share, so we get along great.
I’m a surrounded by lots of missionaries. We live with two other sisters who also serve in the YSA ward and they are awesome too. They’ve all been so welcoming and kind to me. They are sister Christensen and sister Barlow. THEY ALL EAT SO HEALTHY… it’s insane, haha. They’re making me eat better so that’s good. They also do BBG every morning so no way I’m getting fat (sorry Steph) then there’s two sets of elders in the YSA ward too. One of them are the Assistants to the President. Also, we share a giant, giant van with the online sisters. They just have to sit in a room all day and talk to people on the computer. There is a senior couple that teaches institute and they are my favorite people on the planet. So, yeah, lots of missionaries. We always see the others on campus, haha, the students are probably so annoyed with us but they need the gospel, so… tough luck.
Our apartment is pretty nice. Each companionship has their own bathroom and shower and bedroom and we have a washer and dryer. The guy upstairs let’s us use his Wi-Fi so we have the works. Mainly it’s just a lot of empty space hahaha. The last two sisters to be in our room were here for 9 months. THAT’S HALF A MISSION. So me and sister ward are just assuming were gonna be here for 9 months hahahaha. Kinda sad because I wanna explore you know but I also love it here, so I’m happy either way.
Well, I suppose you wanna know about the whole traveling from the MTC to Tampa experience, haha. So we woke up at 2AM on Tuesday and went to the MTC travel office (seems crazy I was at the MTC a week ago – I swear I’ve been here for at least a year) and then the rest is a blur, haha. Finally got to the airport, got to call home which was nice/sad, but mainly nice. Then off to Atlanta! Not gonna lie while in the Atlanta airport I felt really strange wearing that name tag. People were just looking at me differently. Felt weird. And then I went to get a bagel and they asked for my name and I didn’t know whether I should say sister Todd or Gabby, so it was confusing. I said gabby haha. Then to Tampa!!!! The descent was so pretty. We flew right over the ocean. The airport is right by the ocean. It was so pretty and so surreal. Then we rode a tram to baggage claim and right when we got out there was our Mission President, his wife and some missionaries (little did I know I would be living with 3/4 sisters there, haha)
I LOVE THE PRESIDENT AND HIS WIFE. They are such nice people. I’m so excited I get them for my whole mission. Also we didn’t know it then but my companion was the first one to hug me, cute huh? When I started talking to sister Cooper she asked me how it felt to be here and I started crying cause it was so surreal and crazy haha. Then we got our bags and one of mine was broken and we made a huge deal out of it hahahah. I felt so bad because President was set on getting it fixed but I really didn’t wanna make a big deal but we went and he talked to the guy and he just gave me a free suitcase!!! Hahaha woot woot.
We then went down town and tried to hand out one Book of Mormon, haha. It was funny cause I got paired up with sister Cooper and we were both way lost and then finally found someone to listen to us and they hardly spoke English but the grandson translated for us and we talked about how great Jesus Christ is and they totally agreed. It was cool. Then back to the Mission Presidents house for dinner and then meetings and group activity type things. Then the new sisters slept there for the night and they have the comfiest beds, oh it was heavenly. Then the next morning we went to the mission home (my home base now a days) and had all this training and meet like 800 missionaries I will never remember then got assigned our companions!!!!! So fun.
Everyone said this before the mission, and I didn’t believe it cause my emotions are usually pretty consistent, but the mission really is just a roller coaster of emotions. Usually at the beginning of the day when I’m tired I’ll go through a couple hours when I’m like “this sucks and I’m tired” hahaha but then a couple hours later I’ll be like “this is the best thing ever, I’ve never been so happy!” haha. It’s been so interesting for me to see that. Always though at the end of the day I am happy to be here and happy to be a missionary and happy to be in the YSA ward. It’s a funny life to be living, but it’s a good one. There’s just funny stuff that happens everyday.
So far the hardest thing about missionary life, for me, is starting conversation with people. Sister ward is good at bringing up the gospel, but I’m not there yet. It’s just like awkward at first, but you just can’t care worry about that! I can’t dance or sing. I’m on a college campus I hear music all the time and that for real has been the biggest struggle so far not dancing in public hahahaha. I miss dancing. And songs that are “worldly”. Sister Ward is very obedient. Which is good for me.
One day sister ward and I were walking on campus and we started talking to this girl Veronica and she believed in God and Jesus Christ, so we asked her if we could meet with her again and we were having some trouble finding a time and sister Ward just goes “can we just meet right now???” and veronica is like “sure!!” Hahahaha so we just went and sat down and then we said a prayer and once the prayer was over we opened our eyes and she was just crying way and just vented to us about how so knows it wasn’t a coincidence we met her that day. We had a small meeting with her and ready some scriptures. It was super awesome. We’re gonna meet with her again on Tuesday and she’s going to bring her friend. I can’t wait. It’s so cool to see how the lords timing is perfect in all of this.
I love being in Florida it’s so hot and humid and green and beautiful. I love being in the YSA ward – I love being a missionary. There’s this giant lake 20 feet from our front door and it’s our view from our kitchen window. It’s so cool. We took a picture by it I’ll send it to you. It’s crazy how different it is here. So much diversity. I love it! Anyways, I miss you guys lots and I love you so much. Send me letters and emails throughout the week cause I can read them at the end of the day and they make me happy. Anyways love you guys!!!