For Thanksgiving we had two dinner appointments. The first was at an older widow’s home in our stake. The second was at a recently reactivated Hispanic families house… and let me tell you, Hispanic families DON’T LET YOU STOP EATING! I finally had to stop halfway through dessert because I could tell if I took another bite I would be putting my dinner back on the table. It was rough. She had a lot of family there crammed in her double-wide mobile home, too, and most of them didn’t speak English. We tried sharing a spiritual thought, but right when we tried, an old woman started pulling bottles of tequila out from under the table and we decided it was time to go. Don’t worry, the reactivated family wasn’t drinking… but everyone else definitely was.
One of the sons in the family is preparing to serve a mission next year. We’ve made it a goal in this ward to take a priest age young man out with us at least twice a month…. the young men in this ward have a lot of potential, but definitely need good, spiritual experiences with the missionaries to encourage them to get on or stay on the right path.
I don’t remember what I told you last week, but this Saturday we will be baptizing a young boy named Brenden. He is nine and he lives with his Grandmother. She became active because she wanted Brenden and his little sister to be raised in a strong, faith-driven home. Brenden’s parents live close by, but aren’t financially or mentally capable of raising children. One of them is in rehab and the other just isn’t mature enough to be trusted with his children. It is sad to see their family situation, but it is invigorating to see grandparents who will move across the country to guarantee the well-being (spiritually and physically) of their grandchildren. Brenden is awesome. He pretty much taught us the Law of Chastity and Word of Wisdom.
We are also working with an 84 year old woman whose husband died exactly a year ago. She is strong friends with her neighbors, who are ward missionaries. She is at a critical point in her life where she is open to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Plus, she yearns to see her husband again and the knowledge of the Plan Salvation is giving her something to rely upon during a holiday season that now only reminds her of the last moments of her husband’s life.
It is amazing to see that no matter where we are in life, the Gospel of Jesus Christ aids us perfectly and completely.
Lacey, Kimmie, Ryan, Dad, David, Michael… and whoever else wants to chip in their two cents… What do you do to energize an area that has a reputation (among members and missionaries) of being “slow”? Our ward members are all great at praying for missionary opportunities and creating family mission plans, and our three investigators are all member referrals, but we find ourselves struggling daily to know where to go and what to do. It is still kind of alien to me, coming from an area where we literally don’t have time to make it from appointment to appointment.
We are visiting and seeking referrals from members, trying to work with less actives, visiting potentials, doing service, contacting, even knocking (sometimes), Our ward mission leader, ward missionaries, and ward council are effective and fantastic, but what can we do that is more effective? We just haven’t seen results from doing those same things every day, and as President Tew loves reminding us, doing something the same way and expecting different results is the definition of insanity.
I love Cypress. The ward is great, the area is nice, and I see potential. How do we turn that potential into fruit? As a companionship, we don’t want to fall into a spirit of complacency.
The picture you sent from Thanksgiving looks like a record small Thanksgiving (in numbers of people) for the Madsens. Crazy! And it seems weird to just go to a tree lot to get a tree. The four-wheeler is probably feeling a little left out at this point. We helped a member of our ward set up their fake Christmas tree. Something about opening up a tree like an umbrella just seems wrong to me.
Being on a mission definitely fills my heart with gratitude, especially around the holiday seasons. Their is nothing better than the holidays. Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. You will need to send pictures of the Christmas tree and actual winter! It seems like people here compensate for the lack of snow by using a ridiculous amount of Christmas lights and decorations on their lawn. It is weird in Cypress. You can see the mountains, which means you can see palm trees and snow at the same time. The tops of the mountains are finally getting snow. It is really disorienting.
Ryan— That is AWESOME that one of your fellow interns got baptized! I really do feel the work hastening around the world. We have a missionary in our district from Hong Kong. He has been out 18 months and the language barrier is definitely still there sometimes. He is great, though. He is so diligent!
Lacey— Cypress is chock full of Taiwanese people. I been practicing the three phrases I know in Mandarin. Hello, I love you, and Thank you. It sounds like half our family was at Liz’s house!
Kimmie— I hope you feel better!
Tyler—- I can’t believe you leave in less than two months for your mission. I am so excited for us both to be out at the same time. It sounds like you are super involved in the single’s ward. I miss our Single’s Ward.
Isaac—- I’ve heard the 7 Habits series is something that anyone who wants to call themselves remotely successful must read. That is sweet that they have retreats based on it. How was it? I really want to read the books when I get back. In fact, that is a series that my MTC Branch president made me promise to read when I get home.
I love you all! Merry Christmas season!