Hiya everyone!! (They look at you weird if you say "hi" over here)
Hope youses is doing well!
My first area I've been assigned to is Irvine, Scotland. I'm in the Paisley zone of the mission. I'm in a companionship of three with Sister Birch and Sister Passey. Sister Birch is 23 and is from St. Anthony, Idaho. She is super smart and really fun. She's already graduated from BYU-I with a degree in philosophy. I love it because she quotes Disney movies all the time too and understands my movie references haha. She also loves milk just like me! Our trainer is Sister Passey who is 19 and from Bear Lake, Idaho. She is an amazing missionary already, even though she's only been out for 3 months! She is really tall and loves sports--especially volleyball and basketball. She is super funny as well and very hard working. One funny story about her was that she worked before her mission cleaning out septic tanks and sewers. She's told us a lot of crazy stories from that haha. Overall, we all get along great!
We live in a house actually, but we still call it a flat. We have a bedroom, bathroom, a small kitchen, and a living room. So it's actually pretty nice for a missionary flat! We have a washing machine but no dryer so we hang dry all of our clothes. It was really interesting though to find out that everyone here does that! Everyone has a clothes line in their garden (they call yards gardens over here) which was funny to me, becuase it rains so much that I wouldn't think they would have a lot of opportunities to dry their clothes. Also, because it rains so much no one cuts their grass until it's really long. I also learned that almost no one here has a computer because they're so expensive. Technology is pretty scarce over here and we've had all of our lessons so far in the dark because people won't turn on their lights very much since electricity is really expensive. Irvine is a pretty poor neighborhood and people live a lot more simply. Houses are a lot smaller here compared to the U.S as well.
All the houses and buildings here look so old! Driving from the mission home to Irvine, I saw so many castles and old houses that looked like they could fall apart any second. But they're all beautiful I think. And SHEEP! Oh my goodness, I've never seen so many sheep. All we saw driving on the bus to Scotland were green fields of sheep (well fields of grass with sheep on them, but you know what I mean). I'm still waiting to be able to teach the gospel to a sheep here because unfortunately I haven't seen any in Irvine yet.
Ok, I don't even know how they can even make cars as small as they are here in Scotland! They all look like American cars but just squished down into miniature size. The roads are super narrow as well. I'm going to send a picture of the biggest truck we could find (well, the only one we could find...but still...) and it's still smaller than a lot of normal cars in the U.S.! Also, funny story--for some reason cars here will speed up instead of slow down when they see someone crossing the street, so we've had to be really careful haha. Busses and trains are super common here but we are still mostly walking everywhere.
Everything really is bright green here! I was kind of heistant to believe the pictures I saw before coming here, but they're true! The sky is always gray but the grass and trees are beautiful! Also, there are a lot of flowers here because they grow so easily. It's been gray and rainy the past few days but it was actually sunny our first two days here! We all got sunburnt crazy enough.
I love the people here! The accents are so cool! (even though some I still can't understand very well). Most people are pretty small here too. Haha benefits of being short! I fit in pretty nicely:) People here are very blunt and will talk non-stop for hours--trust me, I've had experiences with this. There have been many lessons where the person we're teaching will talk for the whole time and we'll squeeze in a 5 minute lesson at the end. But it's been so much fun. In one woman's closing prayer for our lesson, she said, "God, please bless these wee lassies and keep them safe. Please don't let them talk to any strange men. They can talk to strange women, but not strange men. Because they're all queers." It was so hard not to laugh! But honestly, I have never met so many kind people than I've met here. One of my favorite members of the ward is called Sister Cuddles becuase she cuddles (or hugs) everyone she meets!
The work is going well! We've had problems with a lot of our appointments falling through and I've been pretty knackered (tired) but all is well! We're planning on inviting four people this week to be baptized which is awesome! I also went chapping for the first time this week! Chapping is how you knock on doors over here. You flick the mail slot so it makes a knocking sound. No one has post boxes here. Chapping isn't very effective most of the time, but yesterday we got a potential investigator this way! He says he doesn't believe in God, he believes in science. But we were able to talk to him a little bit more and I didn't think he would be interested but he accepted a Plan of Salvation pamphlet, said he would read it, and allowed us to come back another time to talk with him! Such a cool experience! It's interesting talking to people over here becuase most people don't believe in God because of all the wickedness that goes on in the world. And I've learned that we hardly ever teach that families can be together forever when we go chapping or street teaching because many people don't want to live with their families for eternity. I was really sad learning that, but it just made me even more grateful for my family and friends back home.
We went to ward council a few days ago and that was a very intersting experience and different from what I'm used to:) The bishop and most of the men had tattoos all up their arms and they were drinking (soda, fortunately:) and arguing with each other. But I've learned that's how a lot of Scottish people are. Very stubborn and like to argue with each other. But there are a lot of strong members over here!
People dyeing their hair bright colors is common over here, especially among the younger people. I've seen pink, purple, orange, blue, and green so far. Also, drinking, smoking, and drugs are huge problems over here. It's sad to see how many people get involved with these things and how much it can damage their lives.
Me and Sister Birch were "kebaptized" this week! It's a tradition for new missionaries to eat a kebab their first week in the mission. Kebabs very popular over here even though they are an asian dish. Kebabs are huge piles of donner meat (sheep) on naan bread with onions and salad and salsa. SO good! But I couldn't eat half of mine and it was the small size!
Well there's so much I wish I could say but I have to leave soon. Just want to say I love and miss you all so much! Can't wait to hear back!
Sister Caryn Jackson