I transferred and I am suuupppeeerrr south now so I am extremely happy! My address works if you write Miami or Hialeah, for those of you who care enough to google where I'm at. I'm pretty sure I've seen more advertisements in Spanish than in English since I've been here and the Latino selection at Walmart makes the little "International shelf" in Utah Walmart's look like a joke. haha. I am not in Hialeah itself, so there is still a mix of people from all over Central and South America, but there are a TON of Cubans and people from las islas here so the Spanish is a whole lot more slurred. It is so funny how you can totally pick up what region someone is from by how they speak Spanish. A lot like in the states you can nail if someone is from the South, New Jersey, Boston, California, etc. I am working with the Miami Lakes Spanish Ward and we cover portions of 5 different cities, including Opa-locka (don't let mom look the statistics up on that one. haha.)
I LOVE my new companion. Her name is Melanie Bradley from Orem. I have needed her soooo badly. She doesnt care about numbers at all and growing up spent most of her time with her brother so she is really down to earth and chill and very genuine. She is calm. (Seriously, I love calm people.) The area I am in is known for being a hard area but it is really good. It is different and I love it. I definitely wouldn't change where I'm at or who I'm with. It is going to be an awesome transfer.
Oh yeah, to make things even better...guess who I live with?!?! SISTER RANDI ANDERSON, EVERYBODY. YEP. President put me and my legendary MTC companion back together. He doesn't know what he just did. It's going to be a party.
We had a full-day exchange on Friday and I went into the STL area. They have a YSA ward, so they cover 2 zones and have a HUGE area. It was really, really cool to spend a day in their area. I went to Fountain Blue (RICH cubans), and then downtown Miami and I got to see the Miami skyline while being surrounded by water. That made my list of favorite moments from the past six months. Then we taught a lesson in a park in the middle of Miami and the wind was perfect and the temperature was perfect (which probably means it was like 92 and 100% humidity...haha.) Then I stayed the night in one of my trainer's old houses which was super cool and went for the morning run....right past a competitive pool where a club team was training. haha. My motivation to run, I guess. It was super cool to be running in Miami. I enjoyed that a lot. Guys I just put enjoyed and running in the same paragraph. ahhhh.
So my family spent the past week in Florida which cool because they got to see my last area (and the pool I walked past at least 4 times a day) and my dad made a comment about the rain being like clock work...yes, it rains every day around 3 or 4 without fail. So don't expect anything fantastic from my mission pictures because we tract in that rain every day without fail. haha. My first day here it POURED so we took shelter under a driveport and the neighbors came out with two towels and told us we looked like wet dogs. I've never felt so complimented in my life.
This week I got to meet Mia. Sister Bradley was on an exchange and they were knocking about two months ago and a woman came running up to them and asked if they were Mormons. They said yes, and met Mia. She was a convert to the church and then had her records removed and went into a 10 year downhill spiral, leading her to become an alcoholic. She desperately wanted to change. On Saturday, Mia hit her 60 day sobriety mark. She is one of the most spiritual, most positive, and most energetic people I have every met. She is working with the bishop to be able to be baptized again, but we go over to her house for dinner every Saturday to provide support.
Yesterday she wanted to feed us the left overs from Saturday, so we went over there. When we arrived she had tears in her eyes but didn't want to talk about it so I asked her what her favorite childhood memory was. She said it was when she was about 6 and it was the year before she moved to the states on Christmas. Castro had taken away everything they owned and they were extremely poor. Her mom told her they would not be getting anything for Christmas. Mia's favorite childhood memory is waking up and getting a paper pad and a pencil for Christmas. That was extremely humbling to listen to. Then she was making a mango smoothie (bomb mango smoothies when the mangos have literally just been picked up off the ground) and Sister Bradley was washing a dish (which is a very, very rare thing in a Latin household). Mia burst into tears and cried as Sister Bradley held her. She told us that she had just finished writing her letter to the Prophet to ask permission to be baptized again. She said "I felt the weight of all of my sins....everything bad I've ever done....I felt what everyone that doesn't accept Jesus Christ is going to have to feel."
Between Pablo (from my last area) and Mia, I have an entirely different perspective on the atonement. Forgiveness and repentance are real. It is hard and it has to be self motivated and it is one of the most painful things I've ever had to watch, but it is real. Christ is there for every single one of us and when we remember our sins and feel crushed by them, we can also feel the relief and the love of our Savior.
I wanted to thank my polo team for the awesome notes on the poster. That made my day. :) (Mom finally got around to doing something with the poster all of you signed. It was cut up into puzzle pieces and mailed to her to put together.)
I love y'all so much and hope you have a great week!
-Sister Bren Scadden