Yesterday we woke up at 3:15 AM so that we could be ready to leave the MTC by 4. One of the Elders was late though, so we didn't leave until 4:30... Security took FOREVER and I wasn't sure we would make it through in time, but then thankfully they opened up the rest of the lines and the pace started picking up. We ended up getting through just fine and everyone had time to call their families. Since I had talked to Mom for a couple of minutes while waiting for the security line, everyone else called first, and then because we still had a few minutes before boarding, I was able to call Dad and talk to him for a couple of minutes as well. It was really great to talk to both of you. I LOVE YOU!
On the plane I sat next to a lady who is in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and was headed to Chicago to do some family history work. So cool! She was really nice and I had fun talking to her. When she found out that I had been up since three and hadn't had time to eat breakfast before we left, she kindly shared half of her breakfast with me. I am very grateful that she did. I know I would have been fine, but I just get so HUNGRY! So while not necessary for my survival, it was very much appreciated.
We landed in Chicago around 11 and the Mission President, his wife and the assistants were all there to greet us. They took our luggage, gave us all some mormon.org pass-along cards and a Book of Mormon and told us to go get on the train and give them away. One assistant (so we didn't get lost) took three of us each and we were all on different cars. I talked to a lady from Sweden who was visiting with her husband, but they had missed their day before and so decided to visit downtown while they were stuck in Chicago for the day. We talked for awhile, and then as I have been trained to do, I turned the conversation toward God and what I do as a missionary. She didn't believe in God, but I told her that I believed he was there and that he loved her, and then I gave her a pass-along card. I don't think she'll actually visit the website, but she might. And either way, at least the seed is planted. Then I talked to a Catholic lady who thought it was great that I was out telling people about God, because as she said, lots of people need to hear that message. I gave her a card too, and then we got off at our stop and walked to where we were meeting President and Sister Doll for lunch. We had some tasty deep dish pizza and then they put us back on the public transportation to do some more contacting. This time we were on a train that was two stories tall. Walking in that train station was for some reason highly intimidating. It was just so big and industrial! It wasn't huge and open and crowded like the train stations in Italy though. It was weird. Cool. But weird.
Anyway, this time we were all on the same car, because Elder Roberts had all of our tickets (which, P.S. I love that the guy had to come around and punch all of our tickets! It just seems so olden-time or Polar Express...) Most of us were on the top, and it was hard to start talking to people because they were single seats all facing forward, but a guy across the train from me started talking to one of the Spanish Elders and then when he asked him about the "Elder" on his name tag, I got brought into the conversation as part of the explanation that Elder and Sister are titles, setting us apart as missionaries. I was actually really glad to be pulled into the conversation because I had been listening from across the way, wondering how Elder Hoobler would go about things. He started asking us really great questions like what the gospel of Jesus Christ means to us and how the Book of Mormon and Bible support each other. So I told him that the Gospel of Jesus Christ was to have faith, repent, be baptized, receive the Holy Ghost, and endure to the end. Then the guy behind Elder Hoobler asked a few questions and before we left, Elder Roberts (one of the assistants sitting a few seats farther back) gave him a pass along card. I gave the first guy a Book of Mormon, and I know that a lot of other people heard what we were talking about because A) I had to talk loud to be heard across the great divide that was the open space of train, and B) Sister Fossett was talking to a guy downstairs and she said he was asking her if we were with her, and she said another lady kept looking up and listening.
It was so cool!! Seeds were planted. And I really think those two guys, Alex and Mike, might actually read the Book of Mormon. They were both really receptive, and what I think Sister Christensen would call, "the elect" - those ready to hear our message.
We went to the mission office, met the senior couples and had some orientation, and then went to the mission home for dinner and bed. Best night's sleep I've had in three weeks. Combination effect of: homemade food, comfortable bed, and being EXHAUSTED. This morning we had breakfast and then headed right out for the church where we had some more orientation/training, and then we were given our assignments and trainers! My companion's name is Sister Brown and she seems really nice. I think we are going to get along really well. We have an appointment tonight, and I'm a little nervous, but mostly just excited. I am serving in the Woodbridge 2nd ward in the Joliet area.
President and Sister Doll seem really nice, and I am excited to be here. Wednesday in my preparation day now, so that's when you can expect to hear from me, and make sure to write me by then. Letters in the mail are really great too, because then I can have them and don't have to wait until preparation day to read them, and don't have to use my computer time reading them. Just a few ideas... though I definitely still want emails.
I love you all so much! I am doing great and so excited to be in CHICAGO! The weather was perfect yesterday and today is another beautiful day! I hope it stays for a while...