May 26, 2009 I spent my whole time writing Amy and Teresa. I thought you might like to see my response to Amy. You can take out parts of this letter and post it online if you want to. I love you super a lot.
Oh moses smell the roses it's so good to hear how you are doing! I'm sorry that you've been making such a huge transition and haven't heard much from your family. I'm a little sad that your p-day is not until Monday. This email is going to sit in your inbox for almost a whole week before you get to read it. I guess it's still faster than mail to Chile.
It sounds like you have had some missionary experiences already. You may not be able to speak Spanish perfectly or understand it perfectly, but you do speak the language of the spirit. And you have already helped people come closer to their Savior through your sincere desire to share the gospel with them.
When I first came to Washington, it was kind of like entering the MTC all over again. The whole homesickness hit me once again. I think that I actually cried more in Washington than I did at the MTC. Just as you've already felt, the pain goes away and you actually feel closer to them than ever before. And if you ever do feel lonely, just remember that Elder Arnold has always prayed for you the night before.
I do know an Elder Quintana. Last transfer he was serving in Longview, which is not too far from Vancouver. He got moved this transfer though and am not sure where he's at right now.
With Spanish I felt exactly the same as you do. I couldn't understand anything that anybody said to me. So don't feel frustrated. Just keep working and do your best everyday. And then with time the ability to understand and speak just comes. A little bit better every day. Think of it this way, you are probably learning Spanish faster than anyone else in the whole world right now. You are speaking everyday, studying hard, and... you have the gift of tongues!
A few tips on building a good relationship with your trainer. It is a pretty stressful job to train a new missionary. You're responsible for them getting a good start to their mission so that they can be effective in the work. I promise your trainer loves you and wants to help you. Something that will help is good communication. Talk to your companion about everything. Talk to her about your family, about things you like and are interested in, talk to her about Spanish, and always ask her about things you don't understand. Be humble and teachable.
Francisco came to church again this last week! He's progressing really well towards baptism. I'm very excited for the weeks to come.
Yesterday we had a bomb day of tracting on bikes. We rode through a park looking for Hispanic people. We started in a really wooded area where the trail was very overgrown and had roots and low hanging branches. A Russian man shouted us down and we taught him in the little English that he knew. We gave him the phone number for the Russian elder in our mission. We continued on through the park and found an LDS family out on a walk. We then spotted a large Hispanic family having a picnic. We parked our bikes and started talking to them. We shared a little message. They decided that they wanted to move over closer to the bathroom. We got to help them move a big heavy cooler. It was actually pretty cool. At least we started planting seeds. Maybe in a few years they'll remember that and choose to listen to some missionaries. After that it came time to leave. We were just about back at our car when we got another opportunity to teach somebody in English. He just kind of started to talk to us and ask us what we did. We stopped and actually had a really good conversation with him. He's a young guy that just lost his job, has a 6-year-old daughter and is homeless. We bought him some chicken in the Fred Meyer and gave him enough money for a bus ticket to get back to his daughter. We explained the story of Jesus at the well and I think he related pretty well to it. We gave him a copy of the Book of Mormon in English. Since he would be on a long bus ride, I'm pretty sure that he'll read some of it. If nothing else we did some bomb seed planting with this guy. By the way, his name is Victor. That sounds like a Spanish name but he's not.
I'm so glad that you've had a chance to see somebody be baptized. It's something that you just can't describe to somebody else. It's something you have to experience yourself.
Amy, I'm so happy for you and glad that you're experiencing what has brought me so much joy.
I love you so much,
Elder Ben Arnold
PS I've been praying extra hard for you lately. If I did it, so can you! Tackle for you little brother. Te quiero muchisimo hermanita