Note:  Preparation day (or P-day) is the day Westin takes a break from missionary work to do his laundry, shop, and correspond with family and friends.  Today was his first P-day, so, he was able to communicate with us by e-mail.  Below are excerpts from several e-mails he sent today and a few pictures he has taken.

Hey family!  I just got all of your emails!  It’s Wednesday, and it’s my P-day here!  I am having an amazing time here!  I haven’t gotten my mail yet, but thank you all so much for the letters!  It sounds like you had an eventful time in Cancun!  But I am glad you are back home safely.  The Spirit is strong here and empowering.  I could feel all the prayers for me on Sunday.  The language is difficult to learn, but with the Lord’s help, it isn’t that bad.  The weather here has been really nice.  Other than the first few days, the weather has been really cool.  We are in a valley surrounded by mountains/hills around us with houses up on the side sort of like San Francisco!  I’ll attach more pictures in different emails.  I have spent so much time reading the Book of Mormon and Our Heritage.  I am actually starting to mark scripture verses now!  The stories in Our Heritage are so interesting as well.  So many miraculous stories about the early Saints and their dedication strengthen my testimony that Joseph Smith really was a prophet!  If you can email, email me back!  I’ve got about 47 minutes left!  If you could email me back quickly to talk, that would be great!  If not, I’ll send an ending email later.

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Westin and his companion, Elder Jorgensen from Idaho

The food isn’t bad at all, and though my original companion didn’t show up, I have Elder Jorgensen as my companion who is going to Portland as well!  We spend most of our time as a district which consists of me, Elder Jorgensen from Idaho going to Portland, Elder Farley from Arizona going to Ecuador, Elder Mecham from Utah going to Arizona, Elder Parrish from Utah going to California, Elder Banks from Wyoming going to California, Hermana Rawlings from California going to Arizona, Hermana Day from Ohio going to Arizona, Hermana Martin from Pennsylvania going to California, and Hermana Shepherd from Utah going to California.  We get an hour of gym time a day, and so far I’ve played basketball, volleyball, and soccer!  Sometimes the showers don’t have real hot water, but everything is else is great besides the mosquitoes buzzing in your ear at night!

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Westin’s room in the Mexico City MTC

 I live with people from out west and I enjoy being unique (i.e., the only one in my district from the South)!  Besides, I’ve learned that there is no better place on Earth than East Tennessee.  My heart is definitely there, and I miss it like crazy!  Tell everyone at church to email me!  Put my address in the bulletin or something!  I guess they could send letters but I don’t know how postage works to Mexico. And I guess Bishop was right, me going on my mission is going to set off a missionary spirit in the ward!  I am excited to see where that leads!  Our devotional was on temples last night and we were talking in our district about how close temples were.. I was the only who had to go over an hour away.. and make that three hours.  All the elders in my district are 18 and all the sisters are 19.

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Westin’s name tag

I learned how to bear my testimony is Spanish!  Iglesia es muy bien! El Espiritu Santo está alla. Yo se que Jesucristo es el Hijo de Dios y Jesucristo y Dios son amorosos. Yo se que el Libro de Mormon es verdadero y la Iglesia de Jesucristo de Los Santos de los Últimas Días es verdadera tambien.

Teaching is difficult in Spanish.  We pray for the gift of tongues daily.  We are encouraged to commit to baptism during the first lesson! We learned how to do that yesterday.. it’s pretty difficult.  How´s school going? When do classes start?

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Some of the materials he has received at the MTC

For breakfast we usually have dry pancakes or waffles with chocolate syrup on them.. it’s ok.  Lunch and dinner can be pretty good! Just about every meal has meat!  Our district is really awesome!  We have all grown really close together, and we are like a big family!

My teacher here Hermano Sagers, is really cool and helpful.  I told him that I might be homesick sometimes, and he has checked up on me and given me encouragement!  I have been writing in my journal daily!  I know you are going to want to read it when I get back!  I get about eight hours of sleep at night, which doesn’t feel enough.  This is the most exhausting thing I’ve ever done!!

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The community surrounding the Mexico City MTC (buildings and courts in foreground are part of the MTC)

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Elder Laing

I miss the South!  The mountains, the barbecue, and for some reason especially Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg.  I am going to spend a lot of time there when I get back!

I have to go now!  I’ll email you next week!  Thank you so much for raising me and sending me on my mission!  I have received many blessings already and I am sure I will receive more over the next two years!  Keep the prayers up, and get people writing me!  I love you all!  And I miss the South!  Now I’m going to check my mail!  One powerful scripture that helps me and my testimony of the Book of Mormon is Alma 5:40.  We learn that “doctrines” are simple truths of the Gospel, and sometimes its just that simple!  Thanks for the email addresses!  And don’t worry about me, I miss everybody and everything, but I feel a strength in my that I haven’t felt before.  It allows me to, as Pat Summit would say, “Keep on keepin’ on.”  Tennessee is DEFINITELY in my heart, and there is no better place in the world.  I am definitely on the right path here as the Lord is really strengthening me to rise above my homesickness.  I haven’t broken down once yet, and I definitely thought I would have by now!  Rejoice, because with me “All is well, all is well.”
With love,

Elder Westin Joseph Laing

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