Hello from Palm Harbor, Florida (I'm sure you're looking it up on Google Earth right now, mom)!
(Editor's Note: Click on "Palm Harbor FL above for a direct link via Google Maps)
Wow, I can't believe I'm already in the mission field. Ah, I feel like there's so much to tell you!! Ha well to begin, we all got to Tampa and I didn't even lose a missionary. I was quite proud of myself. But stepping off the airplane in the Sunshine state was a different experience...I'm walking out the door of the plane and suddenly it feels like someone has slapped a warm wet cloth over my face. I spin around to see if any of the other missionaries have been attacked by this mysterious force, and see that the reactions are all the same...Yep, we were met with open arms by Florida humidity. Nasty stuff. We were all picked up by the AP's, President Colton and his wife. They all seemed very nice, but very intense. Ha Elder Marshall summed it up that night by saying it all seemed a little eerie (spelling? Ha I'm sure Whit will correct it). You can tell President Colton is an extremely intense business man, and so watching him be really perky with us is kind of funny. But, he's a really good man and I like him. I didn't know this, but apparently the Tampa, Florida mission is one of the most productive baptizing missions in the South! The AP's told us that one of the missionaries here had a baptism 11 out of the first 12 weeks that he was here! Needless to say that got all of us pretty pumped.
Well, I'm just happy that they didn't let us email after the first day, because I wasn't exactly sold on the idea of sweating in church clothes while riding a bike quite yet. Ha Well to begin the first full day here, we get up at the mission President's home, and then we go over to the church in that area so we can meet our trainers. All that was fine and dandy, basically just a lot of intoduction stuff so we're not completely lost out here. We then go to the meeting to get introduced to our trainers. Mine turns out to be Elder Maxwell Johnson from Salt Lake City. He's a really cool guy, and it's been fun getting to learn from him. He doesn't really teach me anything unless I ask him, which is kinda weird, but when prodded he'll tell me what to do. Ha but anyways, back to day one on the job. We got our trainers and were told where we were assigned. I'm in the St. Petersburg zone, Palm Harbor District (or something like that). Luckily, all of my stuff was there (thanks for shipping my bike and bedding! It was everything that I needed), and we took off. Our apartment turned out to be pretty nice, and is in a good area. Well we get a car, but we have to switch off every week for it. Unfortunately, we didn't get the car until Wednesday...Ha so I got to experience a full day of bike riding in humidity in Florida. By the end of it you could honestly see your reflection in the sweat on my arm alone. I was disgusting. And felt ridiculous knocking on people's doors looking like I was a homeless street urchin that had a nice tie (thanks for the tie, ma!). Ha but the Lord knows just when to help us out. My first door that I knocked on belonged to the home of Dolly and Jim Mason. She's an older woman, and is seriously one of the nicest people I've ever met. When she saw us standing there she kept calling us dear and sweety and immediatly went to go get us water and grahm crackers. Haha Elder Johnson turned to me when she left and said, "This doesn't happen...". Well it turns out that her husband loves mormons because when he grew up in Missouri he went to mormon Sunday school as a young kid. Ha it was quite amazing. We went back later in the week when Jim was home and the reception was just as warm. They are now two of our investigators and we plan/hope that we'll be able to start teaching them this week. Wow, sorry I keep getting sidetracked! So much has happened though, and organizing my thoughts isn't very easy! Well to finish the day, we ended up biking for the rest of the day trying to check up on people, and when we got back to the apartment I was positive that I wouldn't wake up the next morning because I would die from exhaustion in my sleep (okay, that might be a little dramatic, but I was tired haha).
Well, I did wake up the next morning and it's only gotten better. Every day is full of new people and memories. I have gotten pretty trunkee (Elder Johnson said this is missionary lingo for homesick a.k.a. wanting to pack your trunks. Maybe someone can explain it better for Britta...Haha jk bra!), but I'm trying hard to lose myself and go to work. I don't have much time left, but I'll try to send some hand written letters this week, so you might have to collaborate all of the stories. I love you all so much, and miss you like crazy! The work is true, and I know that the Lord has a hand in everything I'm doing. The Book of Mormon is coming to life like it never has before, and it's amazing when you recognize the Spirit when you teach of it. Check out Galations 5:22-23 ("But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.") and you'll know fo sho (We have a lot of wicked cool black people that we're teaching so I'm now allowed to use fo sho) when you're feeling it too.
Have a good week and keep sending me letters!!
Love your bro/missionary,
Elder Kade Bryan Bartschi