This is Elder Samis reporting from Nanaimo, British Columbia, my first ever mission area! Being here on Vancouver Island still doesn't seem real. It's hard to believe I was leaving for the MTC just a couple of weeks ago. Oh how time goes fast! Anyway, departing from the MTC was tough. We had to wake up at 5:00am to get to the airport, eat some cereal in the cafeteria, and carry our luggage to a bus that took us to a train station. The train took us from Provo to the Salt Lake City International Airport where we waited until 11:00am. The plane was tiny and cramped but many of the missionaries were seated close to each other so at least we were in each other's company. We socialized until we arrived at the airport at 1:30pm MST. I heard there were a lot of Asians is BC, but when I stepped inside the Vancouver Airport, I thought I had gotten off in Beijing. There were Asians everywhere!
Anyway after we waited a couple hours for the American missionaries to clear their passports/Visas. We met President Tilleman and a few of the senior companion missionaries. Then we took our luggage out to a small trailer and were transported to the mission home in Richmond. The first thing I remember about that day was oddly enough how cold it was! I guess the damp cold from being so close to the ocean makes 0 feel like -10!
President and Sister Tilleman addressed us in a classroom when we got there. President Tilleman wasn't really what I expected him to be like, but for all the right reasons. He may be caring and very likable but when he explains doctrine or bares his testimony he turns into Jeffery R Holland. He is big on rules and exact obedience to the white handbook. I will be shocked if he doesn't become at least a member of the seventy one day! After eating dinner at the mission home, our mission zones went to stay at a hotel with some pretty fancy rooms. I was assigned with an Elder from Toronto named Elder Lou who was from Hong Kong originally, but moved to Toronto at a young age.
The following morning was fairly unpleasant. We slept in too late and we were in such a rush to leave the hotel that we missed breakfast downstairs to get to the transfer meeting. All the greenies piled into the mission home chapel and waited nervously to find out who our companions were. When it was announced that I was serving in Nanaimo South and on Vancouver Island, I felt like leaping for joy! I was also assigned to work with Elder Groeneveld, who is form Spruce Grove, Alberta of all places! Couldn't have been placed in a better scenario and no doubt it was inspired by God! What's even cooler is the fact that that the two of us are going to be the first ever missionaries to open Ladysmith, a town of around 10,000 20 minutes south of the city.
My MTC companion, Elder Bonfield was transferred to Prince George. Once all the announcements were over we filed into the gym to eat sandwiches for lunch. I also became reacquainted with Elder Rolfson who was part of my EFY group and is from Edmonton as well! He and his companion are serving in Duncan. The four of us and 12 other missionaries serving on the Island drove to a seaport and took a ferry ride from Richman to the Island later during the night. Because our new apartments weren't quite ready yet, all 16 of us were forced to sleep inside a spacious apartment suite on Nichol street, a sketchy area of town. I felt sorry for the poor people trying to sleep while all 16 of us marched up the stairs. They must of been freaked out! The 14 other Elders left the room the next morning leaving us behind for a few days until we could get the furniture for our newer apartment downtown. It's smaller, but much nicer. The building is only a couple years old! Our zone leaders have been staying in the same suite as ours. A couple of veterans, Elder Glover and Elder Duersch are both into their final months on their missions. The two of us have learned a lot from being with them and it's easy to get into deep doctrinal conversations with them. It's amazing to see how much someone can learn while being on a mission!
My companion and I have been getting along well and we've both made great strides to keep the mission rules the best we can. Both of us have been planning like crazy trying to figure out how to navigate the area. The people here in Nanaimo are generally friendly and lovable. We have a few appointments scheduled for the coming week! Those who have said "no" to our message have been polite. Attending church on Sunday was great! I love the ward here! I did get really worried tracting on Thursday for the first time. In fact, I felt so nervous I began to feel sick to my stomach and a bit dazed. We had to stop and sit in the car for several minutes so I could take a deep breath before walking up to the first door. I was fine after the first block and I've been doing alright ever since then. Food has been scarce. On Friday night the two of us tried to make some Kraft Dinner. When we discovered that the cheese powder was a brownish-orange colour and had a funny tatse, we checked the best before date for a pretty nasty surprise. The boxes had expired Dec 31 2009 and had apparently been sitting in the kitchen cupboard ever since. The weather hasn't been great since I arrived on the island. It snowed a lot this morning and it's been rainy the rest of the day with a high of plus 3.
The first week of my mission has been a challenging one. My testimony of the gospel has continued to grow in the field as I've witnessed so many of the little miracles that occur here each and every day. I love you all and I love hearing from you. I hate how I haven't had the time to send the photos from the MTC yet but I'll try to get them up as soon as I can. I'm working on it, by for now!
Elder Maclean Samis