Letter dated February 20, 2012 (received February 24, 2012)
Hey Y'all. Hopefully you get this letter pretty soon. It is President's Day, so the libraries are closed and my trainer wouldn't allow us to go to a member's home to email because it is against the missionary handbook. So yep. Hopefully you get this before next week's email or else you may be really confused and worried. You should have gotten another letter from me that I wrote when we arrived in Dallas. We are not ever supposed to write besides on Preparation Day, but they let us write February 13th to let you know we arrived safely. We didn't know anything at that point, so I've got a lot to update y'all on. There's some very exciting stuff.
First off, I did get my suitcase and Valentine's day package when I arrived. I also got a letter from Aunt Karen too. Thanks so much! Yesterday I also received a letter from Dad and also the emails Mom printed for met that Connor last wrote. I was pretty surprised to get mail since I hadn't been able to get y'all my address yet. It is always good to get mail and hear about the family. Thanks! Dad asked tons of questions in his letter, so I'll try to answer them all and update everything that's going on here.
So I arrived in Dallas at 1:00 p.m. on Feb. 13th. President and Sister Durrant picked us up and the three of us Sisters rode back to the ward with them. On the way, President started speaking to me in Spanish and said he heard that I speak Spanish well. We talked for a little in Spanish and he said not to be surprised if one day I get changed to Spanish-speaking. As much as I originally wanted to speak Spanish, I now am really enjoying English because I don't have to worry about a language and I can speak straight through the Spirit. I guess we will see what happens. That night, we all got split up to do some missionary work with experienced missionaries. I went tracting with a Sister Walker and then we had a lesson on the Restoration with a part-member family. I committed the Dad to baptism at the end of the lesson and Sister Walker set the date. Pretty awesome! Sister Cole, Spencer and I stayed the night at a member's home and she fed us the famous Blue Bell ice cream brand which is actually really delicious.
Wednesday we had a couple more orientation meetings. They had all of the new trainers there and President Durrant had them each introduce themselves. President said he really believes that we would know when our trainer introduced themselves. One of the trainers, Sister Heaton, introduced herself and said she really likes purple - as is in she wears it EVERY day. I totally thought that she might be my trainer, but Sister Cole (my MTC companion) leaned over and said she felt that Sister Heaton would be her trainer, so then I really didn't know. President had us all stand up front and then our trainer would be told to us (the trainers have no idea either who their comp. is). President told Sister Heaton to start walking to the front. Sister Cole and I were standing right next to each other. When Sister Heaton got close to us, President Durrant said, "Sister Heaton, meet your two new companions!" Totally crazy!! Sister Cole and I are both being trained by Sister Heaton, which is pretty much unheard of to have 2 trainees to 1 trainer. It totally makes sense though because we both thought Sister Heaton would be our comp. and neither of us felt like we were going to be leaving each other. It is pretty awesome to still be with Sister Cole and we both really like Sister Heaton. Everybody meets in the parking lot after to transfer luggage and meet, so that is where they got pics of me to put on Facebook. Sister Heaton is the really tall, brown hair one like Dad guessed and Sister Coloe is the short, blonde hair one in one of the pics. It is funny because we are all different heights and we all have different hair colors.
Our area is Grand Prairie. Apparently, it is pretty much the ghetto of the Texas Dallas Mission (besides Oakcliff, but I guess that city is more just the gang and homeless person place). The people in GP are very poor, but very giving. I guess there are a few people that have decent money, although no one is super rich. The house that we live in is part of a member's (the Harshaws) home. We actually live in a small apartment above the garage and I haven't even met the family yet. It is a one bedroom and bath apartment with a small kitchen and a short closet that is very squished and I can't even stand up in it. We had to squish another bed in it (which is a funny story because it made us a couple hours late for curfew on on very first night and many of the members know about it). The apartment is super nasty, dirty though. There is more mold in this shower than I have ever seen, I have no idea when the floors were vacuumed last, and plus all sorts of other dirtyness. So guess what I am going to be doing the rest of Preparation Day - CLEANING! I bought a bunch of cleaning supplies today too because all they have here is a broom and Windex. It is going to be so much fun! Yuck! Even better, when I first walked into the apartment, there was raccoon poop all over our doorstep and the previous Sisters had left a cockroach trapped under some bowls because they didn't have time to kill it before having to be to transfer meeting. Bad first impression, but it is getting better. I haven't seen any other cockroaches yet and Sister Heaton promised that was the first one she saw in our apartment, plus I get to clean all afternoon so I will be able to live in here more comfortably than I am right now.
The Grand Prairie area is right on the edge of the Texas Dallas Mission and if we cross over into Arlington, we are out of our mission. We have done that accidentally a few times since our map isn't the best and is very much falling apart. We are in charge of 2 wards here: Grand Prairie 1st and 2nd. The ward building is on 2010 S. Carrier Parkway if you want to Google it. So we had a long time with church yesterday though it wasn't too bad and we actually had 3 investigators come and 2 converts that were baptized last Saturday.
Guess what? We already have a baptism for this Saturday. Her name is Zubeeda Holman. She is from Trinidad, is 49, and always likes to say, "Yeesss Sisstah" or "Nnooo Sisstahs" when we teach her. It is pretty funny because we'll teach her something and she wont' agree, but she will end up calling us the next day to tell us that she now believes it is true and asking us to come back. Obviously she was being taught before I arrived, but we finished the lessons, got her interviewed, and are now setting up the baptism! Pretty exciting and awesome! I'm so excited for her baptism! Sister Cole and I committed 3 other people to baptism this week, so hopefully all will go well with the lessons and we will have some more baptisms soon.
The work is going great! I am really liking G.P. There are some of the greatest member that go teaching with us. Almost all are old ladies with deep Southern accents. You gotta love it. Everyone is so hospitable and we have dinners with members pretty much every night (besides Mondays) and I am going to get so fat. We've had real BBQ at "Outlaws," enchiladas, and Chicken Pillows (Yummy!). Real good food. I love the members and we have met some pretty crazy members too. It's all great! I love the companions and love the area! Pretty exciting stuff that is going on around here. Hopefully I can email next week so it'll come faster.
Letter dated February 13, 2012 (received February 24, 2012)
So I am now in Texas. We landed a couple of hours ago, have done some orientation and are now taking a little break at President Durrant's home. President and Sister Durrant are very awesome and seem like the nicest people ever. I am so excited to be serving with them while I am here. President is SUPER tall with huge hands, but is already amazing and says he loves his missionaries "this much" with his arms fully outstretched. Pretty Awesome Guy!
We couldn't even see when we landed in Dallas because it was so foggy. The weather is kinda rainy and overcast today, but apparently will be up to 71 degrees on Wednesday. Everyone keeps saying that we are going to be hot, hot, in the summer and I definitely believe them. It is still very surreal that I am here on a mission, but I'll probably get over that pretty quick since we are going out tracting right after this. It should be great.
Tonight we are going to be staying at a member's home and then head back early for more orientation meetings. We don't yet know who our companions are or where we will be serving, but we get to find that out around 10 a.m. tomorrow. I will be able to email you all of the new information on Monday, next week. Thanks for sending the Valentine's package and my other suitcase. They had both of them waiting for me when we met up for the first meeting. Thanks so much!
I am super excited to be here and start teaching actual investigators. I am ready to work hard, be obedient, and love the people of Dallas. My life for the next 18 months has now begun and it is very awesome. I really just can't even express how awesome this is going to be and how excited I am to be here as a missionary. I know I am at the right place, at the right time.
We rode from the airport with President Durrant and I had a nice conversation with him in Spanish. Pretty funny because he asked if I could speak it and I said that I could just a little. He just went off and we talked in Spanish for awhile. I told him I understand a bit of Spanish, but I feel really uncomfortable speaking it. President ended up saying that it is possible that he may switch me to Spanish eventually. I actually hope I stay English because then I can really express myself and not be worried about speaking a language correctly. I guess we will see what happens.
Well, I will talk to you guys on Monday and update you on everything that is happening. By then, I will have a new companion, address, and so much more. Exciting!
I love this church! I can't wait to share the Gospel. Don't forget to always pray and read the Book of Mormon because that is what will truly help each and every person in their lives!
~Sister McKie Peck
P.S. - Thanks so much Dad for coming to see me off at the airport and bringing me things. I love you and appreciate it so much!