Sounds like it's been another eventful week. Life never seems to be slowing down. I haven't written any letter the last couple of weeks due to lack of time, but I'll try and get one off this week.
Well I've jumped to the other side of the mission and I'm in St. Petersburg now! I'm in the Gulf Port Branch (my first time ever being in a branch), and it's been quite a difference from Citrus Ridge. Where that area was rural and redneck (I'll have to take you to Polk City someday....puts Idaho to shame), this is city and ghetto. Ha I can describe it like that because all the Branch members do as well. I am right on the ocean again though, and it's beautiful. Well I'm serving with Elder Ames now, and it's been a lot of fun. I don't think I've laughed this much in the past 5 moths as I have the last 5 days. Haha Elder Ames served with my trainer (Elder Johnson), and it's almost like a flashback of serving with him again. There's a lot of work to get done in this area though. The Branch has about 50-60 people on Sundays, but there's over 400 people on the roster! That means there's a lot of opportunity to reactivate, and work with part member families. So another aspect of Gulf Port is that I'm on car-share again. Ha my bike hasn't got much use the last 4 transfers, but I broke that cycle pretty fast. My second day here we biked about 30 miles. Fortunately I don't think I'll have to worry about gaining too much weight here. There were some less active visits that we tried to make contact with and ended up going from the bottom of the St. Pete peninsula across some bridges to the little keys off of there. It was a little frustrating because no one wanted to talk to us, but it was made better by ice cream at the Don Cesar hotel. You'll have to look up some picture of it. It's pretty amazing that we can just bike to the little islands haha.
Well we had some good experiences this week as well. We got to have some really good contact with a less active member named Ben Sandrowitz. He had a guard at his front gate so we thought we wouldn't be able to get it...we pedaled by just in time to see a kid go through a part in the fence that was missing a pole. We chained up our bikes by there, and then slipped through in the same spot. We walked to the back of the complex and found the building. There was a door to get into where the apartments were, and we were sure that it would be locked. Well it turns out that the person that went in before us didn't close it all the way so we got it. Ha so by the time we talked to Ben he was shocked to see that we'd gotten that far. "Normally I wouldn't talk to you, but I'll let you in today" was the first thing he said. Not only was it perfect circumstances to get us that far, but it was perfect timing for his life. His wife had just left him the night before and he'd recently been let go from his job. We sat and talked with him for a while and he said "I know that there has to be truth in the church because there's been too many times where people have just shown up when I needed them". It was a great experience that was made even better when we saw him show up to church on Sunday. He met with the branch president and has asked us to reteach him the lessons.
It was definitely a faith building story to see that. It can be so easy to fall away from what you believe, but it takes a lot of courage to make come back. It's reassuring to me to know that wherever you go the work is the same. The Spirit can be just as strong back home as it is in Gulf Port, Florida.
I love you and hope you all have a great week!!
Elder Kade Bartschi
Last P-Day in the Lakeland zone.The Jewell Family (Lisa, Tyler, and Alison). Me in front of the entrance to champions Gate...yeah I lived in a place with pillars and an archway to get into the town haha. The Sensors (cool couple from Oregon).
Bro. Staber and I before I left. Elder Ames and I before we take off for a day of biking...yeah our helmets make us look really really cool.
And then some "Welcome back to the Gulf!" pictures. haha those ones of the ocean are literally a few blocks from our apt.