30 January 2012
So, to begin my letter today, some background on how a mission is hierarched. (Note: The numbers given apply mostly to the Virginia Richmond Mission but the same basic structure exists in every mission.)
Most missions have anywhere from 100-200 missionaries at any given time. The mission is governed by the Mission President, his two counselors (who live within the mission boundaries), their wives, and the Assistants to the President (also called AP's who are two regular full-time missionaries).
The mission is divided into Zones, containing usually 20-30ish missionaries. Two missionaries are called to be Zone Leaders (ZL's, they are companions) to guide the zone and help the missionaries therein.
Each zone usually has 4-6 Districts, led by a single District Leader (DL).
Each District usually has about 3-4 Areas, and each area has a single companionship or trio who cover and work with a single, or sometimes two, wards/branches which is what the area is named for.
My new area is Hopewell. Which is in the Colonial Heights District. In the Chesterfield Zone. In the Virginia Richmond Mission. This is my fourth area and coincidentally, my fourth zone.
My companions are Elders Johnson and Roweberry, (I'll get pictures soon) both of whom are from California. We cover the Hopewell Family Ward as well as the Fort Lee Military Branch. We have a car (the only areas in this mission that are on bikes are all in "down-town" ish areas like in the heart of Norfolk or Richmond), however, to save on miles any Elders can choose to walk or ride their bikes for a day or so. Also, once a month the mission has a "Car Fast" where everybody goes a day without their car and focuses on finding new investigators rather than setting teaching appointments.
To be honest, I don't know how the Hopewell Ward is because I pulled the lucky draw to start off the weekly rotation of which of us attends the on base branch at Ft. Lee. Every week, one of us will go to Ft. Lee with either Elder and Sister Stock (the military relations missionaries assigned there) or with President Branderbarry (the Branch President). The on base branch is amazing, and shows true dedication because those at Ft. Lee are usually in training and are working from 4 am until 10 pm so Sunday is really one of the only days they get to rest. Also, it's interesting because almost a third of those attending are non-members who attend because they are acting as a "battle buddy" escort for the member who wants to attend the service. Unfortunately, due to Federal Policy we can't proselyte on base and must wait for them to approach us at either the service or at the Saturday branch activity for us to teach them.
I'll be able to tell you more as I actually get to know the area and the ward, but that's what I have for now. I'm safe and happy and so far I really enjoy both this new area and both of my companions.
I hope everyone is safe and well.
With much love,
-Elder John Y. Roberts