We have received 3 letters over the weekend from Michael!  He is officially in the "mission field" now - meaning he has arrived at his assigned mission in Washington State.  There was a group of missionaries that flew together from Utah to Seattle and were met at the airport by the mission president and his wife.  They were taken to the mission home (which is the headquarters for the mission and where the mission president and his wife live).  From the mission home they met their new companions and each headed off to their areas of assignment.  Michael hasn't quite been there a week yet, but he sounds like he's jumped right in!

"Washington is treating me well!  My companion and I live in a member's home: she's a much older lady but rather wealthy, and her husband had this beautiful home built for them before he died.  So on  my first evening with my companion we return to the 'apartment' for the night and we drive up to this great big iron gate that my companion opens with a remote control and we drive up into this courtyard strewn with Autumn leaves and a couple statues and we go in through the garage into this guest apartment that's separate from the rest of the house.  The apartment isn't like magnificent or anything, but it's nice and homey and we have our own washer and dryer which is really nice.  And the beds are really comfortable.  So I feel a bit like Neil Caffrey (White Collar reference).

My companion is Elder I from Saint George, Utah.  He's taken care of most of the planning for this first week which is perfect for me because I just need to observe what's going on in the area.  The people here are very friendly, liberal, talkative, and it seems that missionary work up here will often need to be slow and steady and patient.  Elder I listens to the Spirit and often our plans change a lot each day depending on how long people talk -- so our days feel a bit like being a wind that you're not quite sure where it's blowing.  But everything has worked our miraculously so far so I trust him.

Apparently I already have a reputation as a really good missionary, but I've only been here for a week so I don't know how that happened.  I just try to talk to everyone..which is really hard for me but I'm working on it.  I bore my testimony to some fellow who had a lot of LDS friends but strongly didn't believe Joseph Smith what a prophet because 'you don't get revelation through a looking glass', so I told him I don't know much about looking glasses but I know Joseph Smith was as prophet.  He brushed me off of course.

And there was this one fellow that Elder I had met with before who had a bit of a drinking problem, so we came by one day to help clean out his garage, and we ended up spending most of the day with him hauling things out and rearranging them.  He was a really friendly guy.  It was very interesting to see all the stuff he had in there.  I was wondering if we ought to say: listen, we have other appointments, but I didn't feel that was the thing to do, but that with him (and most of these people) we needed to give a lot of time with them.  So we finally shared a message at the end where he mostly talked to us about how he really appreciated us coming over because we motivated him to do more productive things than sitting around drinking, and how for some reason the missionaries coming over last week got him to not drink all last week, and he said 'that was a really great week, thank you!'  and he's going to limit his drinking to weekends now.  And so I said a prayer where I blessed his home and asked that he be safe and felt I should ask that he have happiness and peace and love in his life.  And I finish and look at him and he's got this incredible look on his face: quizzical, like he was saying silently, 'Well who on earth are you? Nobody prays like that for me.  Nobody talks like that.  That was beautiful and really kind.  Who the heck are you being so kind like that?' And he shook my hand and we gave him a Book of Mormon.

That's how a lot of our lessons have been."

Elder Pierce with President and Sister Eaton


We received our first letter from Michael this week!  He sounds great.  I wanted to share a bit with all of you...

"Thank heavens for good companions.  They're all good people who are really trying.  We've completely bonded - whoa...we bonded in like a day.  Half a day actually.  Incredible.  You put a bunch of true Christians together...well, we had to create a lesson plan for an investigator and we had some initial trouble there because we're all rather opinionated on how best to teach people.  But Elder F. had us pray as a group and I said it and then our disagreements all cleared up...don't know how.  Miracle."

"I can only email or write letters once a week.  So if you could post that on my blog so people don't wonder why I'm not replying.  Also mention that I'll only have 30 minutes and my family takes email priority.  I will reply to everyone but may have to keep it short or combine emails."

Michael will be in the Missionary Training Center until this Wednesday (Oct 16) and then he's off to Federal Way.  When we have a mailing address for him I will post it....as I know that Elders love to get snail mail because they only get to check email weekly.

taken the morning he left