I went on my first exchange last week and it was very eye opening and helpful when getting to teach with different people (and actually teach). We are in the country-ghetto and since we are white washing an area, everything is really new and really a challenge for both Elder Hoyt and myself. And just like you, the ward members and even the contacts we come in touch with all seem to say "you are where?!" So far no riots have broken out, at least from what I have heard anyway [Henry was in London at the time of Brixton riots that made world news in 1981 and had just been transferred out of that area a few weeks earlier - Father-Son missionary bonding stories]. Maybe soon hopefully though, I'm up for some drama jkjk. We have met so many different people, and I will not boast of myself but while working with my companion right now I see us as Fire and Water, he the fire who is bold, doctrinal, and powerful in his talking and teaching, and me the water, who is calm, steady, flowing and in a way understanding. We both realized or came to see that we are very different and that if there was a missionary who was between both of us he would be Perfect. My goal is to become Ice though. To be solid yet still cooling in effect.
I haven't yet used my bike, and that is good and bad seeing that I haven't really used a bike since getting the bike merit badge some odd number of years ago. Elder Hoyt got his bike at Elder Oaks talk on Saturday so hopefully we will be starting to bike soon (but the car is nice cause it is getting much colder).
Teriyaki and Panda express sound DELICIOUS. But the meals that the members feed us here are for the most part here really good, and one night I got a slice (1) of Papa John's Pizza. A taste of the fruit from the tree of- I'll stop there. ha! I reflect many times to when Elder Lago spoke at his farewell about his sister, Sister Lago having to endure eating that weird fish. There hasn't been anything too weird for me to eat, which I am surprised at cause this is the south, but I know that I'm turning to God constantly. And I am so thankful that I am able to do that for the Holy Spirit is always by our side. I'm exercising, it's not what it was at the gym but I'm working at it. We don't have much food and it is so freakin' expensive to buy stuff at the only grocery store in town, but I've had splendid bowls of Cereal and am thankful for what I do have. And again these members stuff us.
I think that being raised in the gospel my whole life I'm finally understanding the true significance and meaning of the atonement. And it is the most beautiful thing I've ever witnessed. I get music a lot, and play piano when we are at a church which is fun and relaxing. Mom, the story of how your ancestor heard John Taylor's voice singing, i think of often when we go on walks at night and just sing hymns as we go. Elder Hoyt sings really good and he has never had lessons or was in choir so it s always fun.
One last thing, is that YES! There is a huge gold mine of people who know the gospel but have turned away. Do not stop digging for this mine though. It is really hard for us to talk to part members and less actives cause there really aren't any in our area. So I ask that you at home do your best to help others, share your testimony wherever you go and it will leave an imprint on people. I'm constantly thinking, especially when we do role plays of the many different friends who either do not believe in our gospel or who are less active. I pray for them, and I pray for you again.
The weather is kinda weird right now; one day it was 85 degrees the next morning it was 38... But autumn is awesome down here. And I love the fog that comes sometimes in the morning. It's haunting. Hope you all have a fantastic Halloween! We unfortunately have to be indoors at 6, which sucks cause I had the best missionary costume picked out ;-)
Love, Elder Black