Friends and Family:
First off: Mom and dad, thank you so much for the emails. The snail mail out here comes, but I haven't seen one piece yet, and probably won't for another couple weeks. That's been hard for me and I appreciate your emails more than you can probably imagine. I've been struggling the past week, and my day got brighter when I saw you both emailed me. How is Shak? I haven't heard anything about her for awhile. As far as a Christmas package goes...If you happen to find a place where you can get Keen insoles, in a size 9, I would use them, and also my backpack is getting to be old. I guess using it before my mission for school and such wasn't the best idea, and I should have gotten a new one. If you so desire to send me a new one, I would love that. I'd like it to be one I can use for the rest of my mission, good 'n strong, and rugged. This may even require a trip to the army surplus store. Thank you.
Well, I'm going to share something with you, this mission is a free mission for "dear elder." I invite you to use that if you so wish, but be careful not to misuse or abuse it. Only thought out letters, please, no quick little "hi" notes. Keep in mind that we do not get mail very fast here. It may be a month or so until you hear anything from me as far as written letters go. P.S. The pouch system works, too. I got the letters from the pouch the day I got here, forgot to mention that.
This week I decided that the Gift of Tongues is not only for languages. I think a big part of this gift in particular is being able to eat things that you just really don't like, such as onions, spicy things, and slimy things that you don't know what they are, even if your companion tries his best to describe them to you.
I found out today that I'm actually a lot better at soccer than I thought I was. I scored two goals (out of a total of about 16 goals with about 8 players on each side), more than my companion, who is a native from Mexico. Almost everyone here plays soccer, all the kids play in the streets, and all the open spaces have two goals somewhere in them. I also found out that the biggest grasshoppers in the world live here (not an actual fact, just my opinion, and I've seen some BIG grasshoppers before...).
This last weekend was Stake Conference. It was special because it was broadcast to all the stake centers around this part of Mexico, with special speakers: Elder Christensen (of the 70), Elder Bednar, and Elder Eyring. It was a very uplifting experience, almost like a mini general conference. It was cool to hear it in two different languages, and be able to understand both.
I had an interview with President this week also. He is a great guy, sometimes really nice, sometimes really sharp and to the point. He gave me some good advice about being here, about what I can do to feel peace and happiness in my area. The members of our ward are really great and they love to help out by giving us a meal or a ride, even the inactive ones.
Well, I love you all and hope you are doing well!
Elder Iver Johnson