Elder Ketchum is the bomb dot com! :) I arrived to the area (Riverview) on Tuesday morning after a sad goodbye to Elder Elias, the district, and some of the amazing members in Monmouth I had the privilege of knowing. I showed up here, grabbed my bags out of the car, threw them into another car, and we headed to our first lesson of the day. My first impression of Elder Ketchum was a 6'2" guy with a great big grin on his face waking towards me, as he said "Elder Kehl! Hi! You ready for our lesson?", and we were off! He's such a great, wonderful, amazing, capable missionary, who just finished getting trained. Something I thought was funny was a previous elder, Elder Smith, (who went home this past week, and was a tinie-tiny bit shorter than me) was serving here. We knew each other from Woodburn, and apparently when they found out I was coming here, Elder Smith told everyone that I was 4'11" 😂. I heard this all from Elder Ketchum on the way to that first lesson I mentioned. After that lesson, which was with an excommunicated member working towards getting re baptized, (he's actually on date!) we jetted off to our next lesson...then the third, and fourth, and fifth! It was so awesome to have so many lessons in one day! I felt like I was fulfilling my purpose as a missionary to the best of my abilities. One thing that stuck out to me right away during the first lesson with Mark (the excommunicated member) was that holy cow, I was teaching in English!! It was super strange to know exactly what was being said the entire time! Now, I feel like my Spanish has come along pretty well, but it really made me realize that I miss a lot of the non-churchy conversations we had with our Spanish investigators, just because I didn't know non-churchy words! I will say, after almost a week (I'm writing this piece on Saturday), I'm still getting used to speaking all the time in English. I am super excited to be here, though.
This week has been eye-opening to me. I've met a ton of our investigators, and had more lessons than I can count. Elder Ketchum has been so amazing, and at most points throughout the week, I've felt more like the junior companion, learning the ropes from him, and the ins and outs of the area. I feel like I should comment on just how awesome he is. One of the really hard things for me personally, at least, about missionary work is OYMing. OYM stands for opening your mouth, and I've always had a difficult time improving the way I OYM. But, Elder Ketchum is super amazing at it, and he's taught me some strategies that I have been able to apply to my own missionary efforts to be a more effective and efficient missionary!
Like I mentioned before, we've had a lot of lessons this past week. We've also met a lot of new people too! People that Elder Ketchum and I met, who have been pretty interested in the church. One we met on Friday, his name is Tom. He's a Vietnam veteran, and has battled through cancer many different times, in more than one place on his body at a time. Something he told us was he has felt that God has allowed him to live every day longer that he's alive, and that every day he thanks God for that opportunity to continue living. It struck me how gratitude is key to happiness. Seeing and hearing all he went through, and the way that affected him physically and health wise, it would be very easy for him to lash out at God, yet, he is grateful for his experiences. He taught me a powerful lesson for sure!
Another person we met this past week was Izzy, short for Elizabeth. Her situations pretty sad. She lives in a barn that's falling apart, and barely fit for human life. There's rodents all around, and trash and garbage strew everywhere, and it smells more than a little bit. Izzy was open with us when we started talking to her, which eventually led to the Restoration of the gospel, where we shared Joseph Smiths "ask of God" video, describing the first vision. She had a couple questions, which we were able to answer, and ended up inviting her to church! She said she would come, and we actually went over there Sunday morning to get her, but she was a no-show. :(
Saturday morning we were walking to visit one of our investigators, named Shelly. We crossed paths with an older guy going the opposite direction as us on the sidewalk, and we said hello as we walked. He said hi, and explained he was in a hurry. Naturally we asked why, and he replied "oh, just on my way to McDonalds. Can't forget my coffee! You guys wanna come along? Oh wait! Just kidding!" as he slapped us on the shoulders. He barreled right between us on the way to get his coffee from McDonalds... that was a fun experience right off the bat! ;) Later that day, we went to the funeral for a member, Sister Pruitt. She passed away unexpectedly, and a lot of people were there to mourn with her family, who is not of our faith. It was such a testimony builder to me of the Plan of Salvation, and opened my eyes to how much the gospel gives comfort and peace through ANY trial or experience we have in our lives.