It's been a long crazy week. Or maybe just the past couple days. Either way, there's quite a bit to say.
So, one of the wards we serve in includes a portion of the White Mountain Apache Reservation. I wasn't sure if I had mentioned that before. Anyway, we go out there fairly often to contact people, teach, and encourage many to come to church. It can be tough but its fun being able to experience a different kind of missionary work. By “a different kind,” I really mean different approaches. It's the same work, but we just do it a little different on the reservation. So, we went one day to visit a member of the church that hasn't come to church in years. In front of his house is a basketball hoop and there were a bunch of little boys playing basketball. Now, I have to tell you that basketball is a big sport on the reservation. It's like the equivalent of soccer in South America. They all looooove basketball! The man said he was tired and couldn't meet with us that day, so we starting walking to the car. The kids said, "Hey! Big Boys! Come play with us. We'll just go to 21". We thought about it a minute and decided it might be a good idea. They ask if we could slam dunk and since the hoop was only 8- 9 ft off the ground we could…easily. They got a kick out of that. So, we played ball with them for a little bit and got to know their names; then we had to leave. On Monday, we drove through that neighborhood and the boys recognized our truck and came running out to us to see if we could play. Unfortunately we were really busy and late for an appointment but it was neat to see that we were forming a relationship with them and hopefully we will get to teach their families.
Also on the reservation, we visited another family who belong to the church. The man of the family does the Crown Dance, which is a pretty neat thing to see. I can't describe it well, so you'll have to look it up. If you want to see his group they're call Cha Bii Tu, which means McNary in Apache (McNary is the name of the town after the guy that made a saw mill there in the early 1900s) So, we visited them, and he gave my companion and me Apache names. Elder Burggraaf's name is Nalche (not spelled right because Apache isn't really written) and it means "pine tree" because he is tall. My name is Tonteel (with accent over o) pronounced like toon tale. That one is spelled right though because I found it's spelling in our Navajo copy of the Book of Mormon (Navajo and Apache are very similar). It means, literally, long water but that would equate to "river".
So, as a missionary, one gets accustomed to changes: changes in companions, areas, situations and experiences, and changes in one's self. Many of these come unexpectedly. Saturday was transfer news day. The way this works is that President Sweeney will call missionaries that will have a leadership role in the mission (zone leader, district leader, sister training leader, trainer) in the morning and early afternoon. All other news comes in the evening. So, I got a call that they are starting a new District here and that I will be the District Leader of the new district. This district includes my companion and me, and 5 sisters. In mission lingo, this is called "relief society president." This describes when the district has only the district leader companionship (my comp and me) and the rest are sisters. The sisters in our district are great, and I'm excited to work with them. We expected that to be the only news. Then the evening came and Elder Burggraaf was told that he would transfer to Whiteriver (deeper on the reservation). He was pretty upset. He really liked this area but it will be good for him to be down there. My new companion just finished being trained and came up from Mesa in the last zone I was in, so I already knew him. His name is Elder Freckleton, and he is from Ammon, Idaho. We are getting along great. I'm really excited for this transfer and for the things that are happening. I'm pleased with the way that everything turned out.
The transfer meeting was really good. We were a little upset and really tired though. Normally, the missionaries who are living in the mountains make the 3-4 hour drive the night before and stay the night somewhere closer. This time, we were told that we needed to stay in our areas that night and make the drive in the morning so that we would not interrupt our missionary work. Well, that night, we didn't do a lot of missionary work...we drove all over the place so that Elder Burggraaf could say goodbye to everyone. No matter, we obeyed. I woke up at 3 AM after getting to bed around 10 PM the night before. So, on 5 hours of sleep, I drove the 3 hours to Scottsdale, and we got there at 7 AM. The meeting went well, and we drove home again that night. I didn't get to bed until 10 PM last night either so I had nearly a 20 hour day.
Anyway, I'm happy for this transfer; I hope you all have a great week.