I’m living in the “cold” of California. Yesterday we woke up to FROST on the roof of the neighboring apartment complex. If that’s not crazy for Cypress, I don’t know what is. My one sweater is feeling a little thin every day, but the members are compensating by giving us cups of hot chocolate whenever it dips below 75 degrees. It’s funny to see people walking around in huge jackets every day. I wonder what they would do if they stepped outside into -20 degrees in Rexburg. My companion, Elder Garcia, has been having the same problems with his hands, Mom. He is from Hawaii and he has been freezing here. He has only seen snow twice in his life, when he lived in Maryland, so 45 degree nights for him are a kind of like 0 degree nights for you. He keeps trying to turn the heater in our house up to 90 degrees.
This week was fantastic. The beginning was slow and frustrating, but it is amazing how a few good experiences can wash away memories of many not-so-good experiences.
On Friday, we had a Zone blitz in our area. I think I described what that was a month or so ago when we had one in Long Beach. We prepared a little bit differently this time. We didn’t have many former investigators that would set appointment with us and we couldn’t get members out since it was a weekday in the morning, but we planned and prepared relentlessly nonetheless. It turned out really well.
During the blitz, another Elder and I knocked on a door of a former investigator. The woman who answered the door informed us he wasn’t there, but she was super friendly and we quickly struck up a conversation. Her name is Anna and she is getting married on the 17th to the man she has been dating for 7 years. We discovered that she is atheist, and when asked why, she simply said it is because she has never had religion in her home. I asked her what faith is. After her brief, generic response, the missionary with me pulled out his scriptures to Alma 32, which of course is perfect for defining faith. Anna was touched and told us it’s “eery” how we read that scripture since she was just thinking earlier in the week about why she didn’t believe in God. She became excited as we taught her that she has a loving Heavenly Father who cares and watches out for her and as we shared with her how she can develop faith. After eagerly accepting scriptures so she could finish reading Alma 32, she invited us back. We prayed, and afterwards she told us she felt great and that she wanted to pray every day. It is amazing how when we prepare, God is able to send us where we need to go, even if our plans don’t follow through.
Another set of missionaries met two foster kids named Fernando and Bryan. They had a good conversation with them and set an appointment for us on Saturday morning. We then called all of our members who said they were available on Saturday mornings and they all said no except one: the young men’s president. You would think we would have called him first. We had a great lesson with Fernando and Bryan. A few years ago, four foster kids who lived in the same group home were baptized, and our ward has really rallied around these two kids that we are teaching now. They came to the baptism of our investigator, Brenden, two hours after our lesson with them. Then, when invited by our Ward Mission Leader, they went to the LA Temple to see Christmas lights and go to the visitor’s center. While they, they realized that they sit at the same lunch table as a priest-age young man that we helped reactivate. To make a long story short, everything fell perfectly into place. They already want to be baptized and have real, sincere intent.
Of course, we also had a baptism on Saturday for Brenden, which I already mentioned. The service was great. Brenden loves collecting rocks. Earlier this transfer, we talked to a neighbor of a lady we were going to do service for to invite her to help with service. Though she couldn’t help, we had a great conversation. In the course of that conversation, she somehow ended up giving us a huge chunk of petrified wood they found somewhere in the Northwest. We gave that piece of wood to Brenden during the baptism, tying it in to Helaman 5:12 (having a firm foundation in Christ) and turning it into the only prayer rock I have ever seen that is also a fossil. He was pretty stoked.
Mom- As far as pictures go, mostly just recent pictures of our family members. They don’t have to be “family pictures”, but maybe just a few of the pictures that have been sent by everyone in recent months to my email, and whatever else you would like to include. Also, possibly pictures of home (Spokane and Lady and Whitepanther). I’ve just had a few experiences where it would be useful to have those pictures. Oh, and maybe just a picture of snow!
Also, I forgot to mention this last week. I really need a new set of scriptures. My current ones have fallen apart beyond repair. I don’t even take them with me anymore. I’ve just been using a pass-along copy of the Book of Mormon and a pass along copy of the Holy Bible.
If you send me new ones, I would prefer the mini split version of the scriptures (Where the Bible is separate from the Book of Mormon) in blue if it is available, brown if it is not.
I’m surprised how many people in our ward right now work with special ed kids. In fact, Bryan, one of the foster kids we are working with, has a slight mental disability. It is mostly just a reading disability. I’ve been surprised on my mission how common these disabilities really are and how much confusion there is about what they really are. It has been a huge blessing on my mission already to have your background in special education. I didn’t realize until now that I have really learned from your example and am able work with those with disabilities because of it. I love you! Hopefully you don’t feel too lonely with all of the Christmas activities while Dad is gone!
Tyler- It is so exciting that you are going through the temple. My advice would be to go as often as you can. The more you go, the better it gets. Also, I would suggest trying to prepare family names and at least doing baptisms for them before you leave, if possible. I know some sides of our family already have a lot of work done, but there is always more work to do! The church is really pushing to involve the full-time missionaries more in Family History work, and the more you have experienced it, the better it will be. I wish I would have taken time to do more before I left.
Lacey- Holy cow! I thought this was going to be a part-time, three days a week job. Crazy! What exactly does your job entail? Are you staying in Arizona for Christmas?
Grandma- I loved that quote from President Hinckley! It is so true!
Dad- I hope you will at least be home for Christmas! It sounds like a busy December. Busy is good, though, right?
Thank you for the advice on working with members. It is so essential, and I’ve realized here that there is a difference between just talking to members and helping them come closer to Christ. It is easy to just chat with members as a missionary, but that forsakes my purpose as a full-time missionary. I love you and miss you. Hopefully you get a chance to see Mom before 2014!
I love you! Happy Holidays, everyone! This is seriously the most wonderful time of the year.