The First Taste of the Field

Notes from Elder Larson: 

  • I absolutely love getting random little emails from home, or anyone, through the week. It's surprising how much of a boost that actually is and so keep that up. 
    You can email Elder Larson here: tyson.larson@myldsmail.net  He can read them every day but can only reply on Monday's.

  • Starting to understand my favorite scripture D&C 6:36 (well all of chapter 6) 

  • Reading my patriarchal blessing a ton and it's great

  • Praying more than I ever have in 19 years

  • Love reading general conference talks so send them to me! (editors note: he can get links to anything on LDS.org only and has no access to print)

  • I'm blessed to have Elder Bronson as my first companion.  We're like the same in every way. Our personalities, logical, wanna work but get frustrated when we don't know exactly what to do, always wanna be perfect at everything, and lots more. Just meshing really well.

  • I miss the mountains so much it's stupid, everything here looks the same and I hate that! 

Sunday

I don't remember the last update I did... But I'll just start from Sunday.  Sunday's in the MTC are the best.  Woke up and had breakfast.  Then went straight to sacrament meeting. It was nice to just sit there and be in your own thoughts and relax.  After that we went back to our classrooms and had interviews with President Laney.  

Left to Right: Brother Facer, Elder Larson and President Laney

He keeps telling me I'm like family to him because of how close he was to my great grandpa Merlin and grandpa Mike and his brothers and stuff,  It's nice to have that connection.  He told me some great stuff that I really needed to hear because I was feeling kinda homesick and stressed because I was leaving in less than 24 hours.  Stuff like I'm "too blessed to be stressed" and that I get "paralysis by analysis" and "You're a Larson! You can do anything!"  Then we just talked for 5 minute about some things and scriptures.  

After the interviews we went on our Sunday temple walk.  It was hot outside, and the sun was shining and it was great to be out there and just relax. That night was the Sunday devotional.  The speaker was Lloyd Newell, the guy who does Music and the Spoken Word.  We sang some songs and he talked about them and related them all to missionary work.  I feel like the whole thing was directed to me and just what I needed.  One of the songs I loved was How Firm a Foundation, and he used my favorite scripture D&C 6:35-37 (specifically 36).  After the devotional we had to go pack because we were leaving at 3:30am on Monday.  So we went outside with Brother and Sister Taylor and they had some packages for me from mom, dad, and Brooklyn.  Brooklyn sent me Costa Vida queso!!!  It freaking made my day so much to get that and her letter.  Packed and went to bed at like 11:30. Waking up to leave at 3:30. 

Monday

I would never recommend waking up at 3:30 am., especially if it's to get on a plane that seals your fate for the next 2 years! (editors note: this may be my favorite quote from Tyson EVER!)  It's terrifying!   But, it's kinda funny because as scared as I was, I didn't feel anything.  I knew I had those feelings, but I felt like I could do it.  We got to the travel office and got on buses that took us all to the airport.  There were 16 people going to Virginia with me, and a bunch of missionaries going to New Mexico and probably more going other places.  They let me through security and we got to our gate with about an hour and change to spare.  As soon as I got a spare minute, I whipped out a phone and called my mom, dad, and Brooklyn. (editors note: missionaries are allowed to make phone calls during their travel to the field.  Once in the field they may only call home on Christmas & Mother's Day).   It was so great to talk to them and get to hear their voices and how they were doing.  We talked for about an hour or so and then I had to get on the plane.   I didn't really want to tbh (to be honest).  It's weird because I know where I am supposed to be and I know I want to go on a mission, but I don't know any details of my life except that I have a plane ticket home on September 4th, and that scares me a little.  But, I got on and told myself that I just had to make it to our layover in Georgia, about a 3 hour ride away.  I slept hard on the plane to Atlanta haha.  

When we got there we had about an hour until our next flight.  I think the biggest thing that helped me get on that next plane was being able to talk to Brooklyn and my parents,  It was really a tender mercy.  So we landed in Virginia and that was it.  

It was raining outside, a little humid, and my home for the next 2 years. That hit me hard! I think it was when we were driving, and I didn't have any depth perception of anything around me that I really realized that we're not in Utah anymore Toto!  We grabbed our luggage and went to a stake center nearby for dinner and an introduction to the mission.  It's all rules, rules, rules and I don't necessarily love that haha. Anyways after dinner we went to the cultural hall and talked about intro stuff, and President Wilson started pulling people out to do interviews one by one.  

Sister Wilson, Elder Larson, President Wilson (Mission President of the Virginia, Richmond Mission

Sister Wilson, Elder Larson, President Wilson (Mission President of the Virginia, Richmond Mission

During that time we were also getting and setting up our iPads.  I am excited to have it,  I think it's cool that we can show so many videos and not have to carry tons of stuff all around.  Also that our area books and maps and stuff are all on there instead of a huge paper binder.  They're super locked down, so when a mission gets iPads they start out and can only have certain things and are more limited on what they can do.  But, as soon as all of our old area book stuff is downloaded into the server for all of the iPads for the whole mission, we will become an online mission and be able to use Facebook and other tools to help proselytize.  Anyways we had our interviews and our iPads.  President Wilson seems like he's going to be a good president and is really focused on baptizing.  We stayed at the mission home that night after our meetings. 

Tuesday

Tuesday morning we woke up and had breakfast at the mission home.  Then we had to be at our transfer meetings at about 9, I think.  First we had a new missionary meeting.  They talked about a lot of stuff like bikes, cars, medical stuff, apartments, and everything else the senior office missionaries help us with.  Then we had a meeting where all the new missionaries met our companions.  My companion and trainer is Elder Bronson.  

He's 21, from Taylorsville, UT.  He went to two years at the U (University of Utah), plays the guitar, and has been out for like 7.5 months.  His last area was Charlottesville.  We seem like we're going to get along really well.  

So after that we had the mission transfer meeting where everyone that was either leaving, getting a new comp or being transferred came and President Wilson went through all that and told us all where we're supposed to be going. Me and Elder Bronson are in Gayton! It's a big area and we don't have a car, but the members are supposedly great.  Neither of us has been there before. (editors note: Obviously Tyson hasn't but in many cases the other companion has been in the area and knows it a little.  In this case Elder Bronson is new to the area as well.)  So we got our stuff after that Bronson said goodbye to some people, and off we went.  A member gave us a ride and we got to our apartment in about 10 min (the transfer meeting was at our church building).  Our apartment is pretty big, but needs some work... The last elders left a mess for us and so there's a lot of cleaning to be done.  We don't have any food yet because they took it or ate it haha and there's barely any lighting.  For some reason nobody has lights in their houses here.  They only use lamps and it drives me crazy.  So, we cleaned a little and settled in.  Then we started trying to figure out what do do next.  

We looked at the notes the last elders left us and had no idea where to start.  The Spanish elders (editors note: missionaries in the same mission but who are called to speak Spanish in that mission), who are in our area, came and picked us up and took us tracting (knocking doors and talking with people in their homes) with them.  We tracted up a road while they went to an appointment.  We hit a few doors and eventually we started talking to Thom. Thom Is interesting, he is very eager to talk to anyone, and even talks to himself sometimes.  We talked to Thom for about an hour and just got to know him and introduced him to some simple gospel truths, like faith, and answered some of his questions.  We were there for about an hour teaching and it was kinda interesting.   Made me not so homesick, at least not while we were there.  We scheduled a time to go back on Saturday night and teach again.  Then we went back to the apartment.  We unpacked and got in bed around 11:30.  But that was probably one of the worst times of the day.  It was weird for me because the whole day I had kinda been homesick, or had it in the back of my mind.  But, I was busy most of the day or talking to Bronson about home and that kinda was helping in those moments.  When we settled down, and I was just sitting there in the dark, I knew I wasn't in Utah anymore, I knew I wasn't surrounded by my mountains anymore, I knew I was 8 hours away from my family and girlfriend, and I knew that this was only my first day, and that just terrified me . So, it took a while for me to get to bed and I was kinda uneasy the whole night. 

Wednesday

Wednesday morning I woke up bright and early.  It was so weird to wake up in this new place with a new companion.  It kinda make me think of home all day... Not like in an "I wanna go home" way, more like, just, I know I'm not there and I think about it a lot.  So we woke up and started our morning routine, which is going to be the same every morning until I come home.  Wake up 6:30.  Go do some sort of exercise till 7.  Prep and get ready for the day till 7:30.  Eat and do whatever you need till 8.  From 8-9 is personal study time for yourself.  9-10 is companionship study.  10-11 is my 12 week training for my first 3 months here.  After that is an hour of adding our old paper area book to our iPads.  Lastly an hour of lunch.  So we're usually out and about by around 1ish.  

I think Wednesday we went with the Spanish missionaries in our area (they have a car) to the store to get some supplies to last us until Monday. Then we went back and figured out kinda what we wanted to do for that day and cleaned some of the apartment a little bit.  We went tracting a little based on some new converts and less actives we knew and just tracked a lot of our day.  Then at 6 we had dinner with a family in the ward.  And after that, haha, well to be honest, I don't remember.  At night we go back and plan for the next day, then get to our apartment around 9:30 and start prepping for bed. Writing in our journals and such. Then bed at like 10:30

Thursday

Woke up and did the regular routine.  Also, I love reading conference talks or like quotes or stuff like that.  So feel free to send me stuff you guys love. (editors note: if you send pictures they have to be sent as attachments, not inline.  He can only use links to lds.org as far as I can tell right now).  On Thursdays we do our weekly planning.  We take like 2 hours or so and plan our goals and basically everything we can for the coming week (refer to PMG if you wanna know more), but, anyways that was long and kinda boring but, I guess it's important.  

That night around 5:30 we went with a member to the farthest part of our area, Goochland.  We met the assistant ward mission leader out there and had dinner with him.  We were supposed to be having a lesson at his house, but the investigator didn't show up, so we ended up staying at his house for a while getting to know him and the ward. He took us home and took us to the mall and got Cold Stone.  I loved it and it was just like home.  Wish I could just go shopping though, haha.  Also one cool thing about him is he had a pet pig named Chubs. The pig weighs about 300 lbs, and I'll try and get a pic with it next week, but, it's basically like a dog haha! I want a pet pig! (editors note: not happening under my roof!) 

Friday

This was probably our busiest day this week.  We started off going to teach an investigator the old missionaries were working with named Cheryl.  We went with a member, Brother Lawrence, who is in his 90's and still going strong.  The lesson with Cheryl was great and we have high hopes.  

After that Brother Lawrence took us to Arby's and we got some lunch.  He's seriously the greatest, and always is doing missionary work.  After that we went with President Anderson, a councilor in the mission presidency that lives in our ward, and his wife and set up tables and chairs for a stake relief society thing, I think.  I don't remember what it was really for, but it was weird being in a church building, setting up chairs, and not having my dad there.(editors note: I helped take down chairs the very next day in our building for a stake relief society function and it was weird not having him there as well!)  That really hit me how much we actually did that together.  Anyways President Anderson is awesome and really loves missionary work.  The rest of the night we had a couple lessons and just did a lot of finding.  We're trying to work on visiting a lot of part member families and then tract around them (Bronson's idea obviously).  It's interesting how many different kinds of people we're meeting here.  

Saturday

We started off after our morning studies with about an hour of just calling people and trying to set appointments.  It wasn't super successful.  After that we added all of the part members to our investigator list and so we could see them all on the map at once instead of just visiting them one at a time.  Then we went back to the apartment and the Spanish missionaries called us.  It's nice having them in our same area because they can take us places with them because they have a car.  So we went to our area and tracted while they taught 2 lessons.  We found one of our recent converts Desree there and taught her and her two sons a little bit using the Mormon Message video Because of Him, which is a great video.  

They seem great and said they would probably come to church on Sunday. After that we had dinner at a members house. It's crazy how many members actually feed us though the week.  I guess I just had lower expectations.  And then we had another lesson with Thom (from the first night). We talked to him for about 45 minutes and he seems like he's really interested. Then we just tracted home. 

Sunday

Sunday we were up a little earlier, at about 6, for ward council at 7:30.  The ward mission leader came and picked us up and we went to the church.  From what I heard in the MTC and from Elder Bronson, ward council is supposed to be focused on how the ward can do better at missionary work.  It was interesting to sit in on and we have a good ward.  It seems like everyone here says it's a lot like a Utah ward, but I'm not so convinced yet, haha.  I think I was just too spoiled at my home ward.  But, anyway, church was good.  We talked to everyone because we were both new to the area.  After church we had apartment inspection with the ward mission leader.  He was pretty relaxed with it, because he knew the last couple sets of missionaries had left us with a pretty good mess.  So, we have to do some cleaning on Monday and he's going to try and help us with some stuff like chairs and cleaning supplies.  Then we had lunch at a members house.  We went home and got ready to go tracting, but didn't really know where to go so we went and did splits with the Spanish missionaries.  It was cool to have one Spanish and one English.  I was with Elder Packer and he knows English too, so that was nice. But, when we got to a Spanish home it was all him, haha!  Anyways that was ok but nobody was really receptive. 

Not a ton of super exciting stuff this week, but I know there will be eventually. 

Notes about my homesickness and anxiety from the last 2 weeks: 

- I know I was pretty stressed about coming out here, and it's funny because I've never been like that my whole life about anything.  So, it is still there, but I'm just getting more numb to it, I think. It starts pretty much every morning when I wake up and realize that I'm not home. It's not like I want to go home, or even that I haven't liked it here this week, because my week has been alright (there were good parts and hard parts). But it's just the whole thought of having 2 years, which seems like forever away and that I'm not home and the same stuff as before.  But from what I hear, you either just get over it and are ok in a couple weeks or you always have a little bit of that in the back of your mind and you just learn to get numb to it (I'm the second one). Overall though it's better I guess.  Actually being in he real world instead of the missionary training factory is good. 

Well anyways that was my week. Love you all. 

Elder Larson