Hello from beautiful Springfield, Massachusetts!
I am writing from the Chicopee library, named for the town of Chicopee right next to Springfield, Massachusetts. I have had so many great experiences so far, so I’ll just start dumping them!
First, my new address for letters and packages!
Springfield, MA 01103
President Miller and his wife are so amazing. The first time walking into the mission home, I immediately felt welcome. It was so weird being inside a house after being at the MTC for what seemed like an eternity. President Miller reminds me so much of my dad, and he’s left handed just like me! Sister Miller in a similar manner reminds me of my mother. They had been friends before President miller served his own mission, and soon after he returned, he baptized her and they were married. They have a young daughter that is very energetic and loves to play pranks on the Assistants to the President.
My companion and trainer is Elder Duggar. He is from Bountiful Utah, and has been out for 18 months.
Mom Note: You all know that Spencer is a really serious kid. He is not a super-smiley one. And he can never fake a smile. When Sister Miller posted these pictures to FaceBook, she made my whole summer. He looks so genuinely happy — even joyful.
We have a jar labeled “First date fund” that we fill with all of our extra change so he can go on a date when he gets home. As of right now, he is looking at a few cheese burgers at McDonalds, as there isn’t much in there. We are working on getting him up to Taco Bell, and if we are lucky, he might be able to make Cafe Rio with the change we collect.
We have a car — a Subaru Legacy! Elder Duggar doesn’t seem to understand why I’m so excited. Anybody who knows me knows that I am an absolute Subaru freak! We have these things called Tiwis that track our driving and report it to the mission office, so we can’t speed or drive agressively if we want to keep the car. Our apartment is actually outside of our proselyting area, so we have to be careful to keep it, otherwise we will be doing a lot more walking!
Our area actually covers several towns, and the ward is about a hundred strong, with a pretty diverse demographic. A significant number of our ward members and investigators are Puerto Rican, and only speak Spanish, so we have to rely heavily on members to translate for us. I wish I had learned more Spanish! Que asco!
I was asked to give a talk in church on Sunday (his first Sunday in the mission field), and I felt really pressured to give a good one, so the ward would like me. I started writing something that was honestly more appropriate for a college textbook, but Elder Duggar helped me write something that was a lot more natural and missionary-lesson-esue. I ended up just making bullet points of what I wanted to talk about, and I was able to speak naturally and fill the entire time, which was great. I had never done that before.
My talk was about Ether 12:27 and the nature of weakness.
“And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.”
I define weakness as anything that a) keeps us from keeping commandments, and b) something not in the Character of Jesus Christ. Weakness makes us poor servants of the Lord, but he provides a way that we can become better servants through complete reliance on him. Here’s my quote for the week that I came up with:
Avoiding sin makes us happy. Seeking to do good makes us JOYFUL!
On Saturday, we did not one, but TWO moves. We helped a family in the ward move everything into a Uhaul and subsequently into a storage unit, and then we helped an investigator’s family clean out their garage in preparation to move. There is no reason that we were able to do both moves in the same day, but we did it. I can only say it must have been by the power of the Lord.
We have gone door knocking only a few times, and I am quickly seeing why. New Englanders hate two things, people knocking on their door, and organized religion. We rely heavily on member referrals, because tracting is almost always a waste of time and is always very discouraging.
We are very blessed that the members definitely feed us well! We visited Sister Morales and her family, and had Puerto Rican tacos. I had never had Puerto Rican food. It’s kinda like Mexican, but the spices are all different.
We have several appointments to teach coming up this week, and 4 investigators with baptismal dates. We just have to finish teaching about commandments, and they will be ready. We are so excited for them! I will make sure to write about that experience next week.
As always, I appreciate all of your kind letters and emails! I will do my best to reply, but I have very little time, so if i don’t get to you, it isn’t because I mean to offend! I love you all very much! And while I miss you all, I am happier being here and doing the work of the Lord right now. And that is good!
Love, Elder Shull