I’m trying to use both of my mission languages, Portuguese and ghetto-speak. I’m pretty sure I’ll be fluent in at least ghetto speak by the time I get home.
My P-day is on Monday, but we couldn’t email since it was Labor Day and all the libraries were closed. And then we couldn’t email Tuesday because we ran out of time. Que droga!
I was reassigned to the Long Beach, California Mission, and guess what, I LOVE IT. Eu gosto de Long Beach muito. That being said, I will never live in Long Beach. Ever. In my entire life. I have two companions, Elder Coen and Elder Loutensock, and our area is the downtown area of Long Beach. The actual downtown is nice, but the rest of Long Beach is pretty sketchy. Our apartment is wedged between the downtown and the ghetto, so we go running downtown (almost to the ocean, I still haven’t seen the ocean) but the rest of the day we are usually surrounded by cockroaches, tattoos, and weed.
For the first time in my life, I am a minority. Not only a racial minority, but a social minority. As missionaries, we stand out from a mile away, with our white shirts and helmets and all 32 teeth (32, right?). It’s strange, but it is really good. It’s funny, because everyone respects the missionaries. We met the leader of a gang on the street, but he said he would always protect us if we needed it because he loves God. Sister missionaries aren’t allowed in our area because of the craziness, but I haven’t had a single situation yet where I haven’t felt completely safe.
I miss Portuguese!!! I practice it as much as I can, and my companions always makes fun of me for speaking in tongues, but it has actually come in handy! Since at least 50% of the people we run into on the street only speak Spanish, I’ve been forced to take the limited Portuguese I know and turn it into Spanish that I definitely don’t know. It is good though. I’m always amazed when I understand what they say, especially when it’s a drunken old man speaking a language I’ve never studied.
We are teaching a young woman named Alex. She is a model and a mother of three. I don’t think her kids live with her, though. She has had some serious problems in her life before, but she is SO loving. She went to church on Sunday for the first time, and offered to make dinner for this woman from another ward who is getting cataract surgery. So tonight we are helping her make tacos, teaching a lesson, and bringing those tacos over to the lady from the other ward. Alex has nothing, but she is always focusing on what she can do to help others.
We are also teaching a woman named Krystal. She has three children, but is raising them mostly on her own, since her husband works in LA. She has trouble understanding the language of the scriptures, but she has come to church twice and is really starting to get excited about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Her sister lives with her (but only speaks Spanish), and she asked if we had Spanish missionaries we could send over. Of course we said yes and her sister has already had the first lesson in Spanish.
Third, one of my companions, Elder Coen, and I, were walking down the street to an appointment. As we walked down this busy street in the dark, we heard a woman yelling from across the street. She definitely did not look like the type of person we wanted to approach on a dark street, so we kept riding. This woman, named Aleasha, then sprinted across the street, dodging through traffic, and yelled, “Elders! Wait up!” Aleasha just moved into an apartment in Long Beach and it is the first time she has had an address in 30+ years. She is a recovering alcoholic and had met missionaries in the parking lot where she lived before in Orange County. It was a miracle that she had seen us, because the other missionaries didn’t know she had moved and she didn’t have a phone or any other contact information. Aleasha met the missionaries about three weeks ago, and in our conversation, she told us that she would rather have the Book of Mormon than a $100 bill (which for a woman who has been homeless all her life might as well be $1,000,000).
The last investigator I want to talk about is Malcolm. We actually just met him on Monday night, after P-Day. We were on the way home and it was 8:59 PM, so we were pretty eager to get to our apartment. We stopped at a light and started talking to people, just like we normally do. The light changed back to green, but I noticed this guy standing behind everyone else on the street corner. I went over and introduced myself and the other missionaries. He had just moved from LA that day, and we were the first people he had met beside his roommate. We taught him about God’s plan for us on that street corner and we set up a return appointment. Then on Tuesday we taught him about the Restoration and the Book of Mormon and today we taught him all about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. His baptismal date is for September 21st and he told us today that he didn’t know why he had moved to Long Beach, but he knew he needed a change, but when he was talking to us, he realized that he moved to Long Beach to talk to us. I’m so excited for him.
Dad- I’m a little jealous that you got to go to Port Angeles. I feel like I haven’t seen everyone there in ages! Also, where did you get blackberries? I’m sure the jam will be gone long before I get home, but it sounds delicious. It’s been pretty hot here in Long Beach (everyone here says the can’t remember the last time it was this hot and humid) and a homemade blackberry milkshake sounds amazing. Thank you so much for the scriptures you send every week. They help to strengthen my testimony while I am out here. Also, thank you for not ever moving our family to Southern California.
Mom- Good luck with the song for primary! I’m one of the ward organists in Long Beach 4th Ward now. I told the Bishop I could play the organ when I got to church. The current organist started playing the closing song and I couldn’t even recognize it! I felt bad because everyone stopped singing after the first verse and a lot of people (including the bishopbric) couldn’t help but laugh. I’m sure the Lord blesses that organist for his effort, but I’m grateful I’ll have the opportunity to play the organ. I played the piano at the mission office for a while, too, which was fantastic. I hope Grandma and Grandpa continue getting better. I love them and miss them. Also, I know how Isaac feels. California has bugs EVERYWHERE. I’ve seen more flies in the past week then my whole life combined, and we saw a cockroach this morning in our apartment. We’d kept them out until then. I’m so glad everything is going so well for Lacey and Michael. The Lord definitely had a plan all along!
I’m running out of time, so I’m sorry if I don’t respond.
Dave- Thank you so much for writing me in Portuguese, and thank you for your words of encouragement and strength. I know the Lord is watching over me and I’m so grateful to be a part of his divine work. I would respond in Portuguese, but I can’t change this keyboard to Portuguese.
I love everyone! I know that our Savior Jesus Christ lives and that God loves all of his children. It is up to us to turn to Christ so God can pour out his blessings upon us.