A Feeling of Progressio​n (Plus, 7 Months!)

Today is my seven month mark! Holy cow. Time flies. One of my trainers, (since I had a different one my second transfer than my first transfer) Elder Bledsoe, is going home in two weeks. I love him. He is a fantastic missionary.

So I learned a fun fact today about California’s drought. In an average year, Los Angeles receives 15 inches of rain. In all of 2013, LA County received 2 inches of rain. Apparently some major jet-stream shifted this year, which is also why the east coast is getting pounded repeatedly with winter storms and why the Winter Olympics in Russia are having weather around 60 degrees. At least, that is what some member of our ward told us.

For at least the entire past two transfers (12 weeks), our area in Santa Gertrudes Ward hasn’t had any investigators. Well, I think they had one at one point, but they weren’t solid at all. This week we found two new investigators (Hallelujah). Also, during the second time on my mission that we “knocked a street”, we found one of those new investigators. What?! Success knocking? At least in this mission, that is unheard of, which is why I have only knocked a street twice on my mission. There are more effective things to do. We met an elderly lady named Sally, whose husband passed away recently. She was raised in the Lutheran faith but many of her friends were LDS when she was in high school (about 70 years ago). We taught Sally the Restoration on her front porch, and she was very sincerely interested and open to what we taught. She eagerly accepted a copy of The Book of Mormon and told us to come back. She was also extremely excited to have someone pick her up for church, since she can no longer drive and her children won’t take her to church because they don’t attend their own church.

Also, in Mar Vista Ward (the Singles’ Ward), there was a girl baptized about six months ago named Sara. Her mother, Judy, began attending church with her, but stopped because she wanted her daughter to make the decision to be baptized on her own. Now, through the wife of the Bishop of Santa Gertrudes Ward (the family ward), she has asked to be taught the lessons again. There are fewer things better in missionary work than the mother of a recent convert who asks the bishop’s wife if she can take lessons from the missionaries. Of course, the bishop’s wife agreed, invited her to have the lessons at the bishop’s home, sat next to her at church, and brought her to a fireside Sunday night. Judy is agnostic but knows she feels peaceful and relaxed while she is at our church. She has accepted that God is Love, and began (unintentionally) praying to God when she got into a car accident a few months ago. I can clearly see that the Lord has been working to bring the gospel into Judy’s life and that all of these events are falling into place for her.

Also, we have received a stack of referrals for the singles’ ward, which is a miracle, and there is someone in both the family ward and the singles’ ward who told us they have a friend that wants to take the missionary lessons in their homes. Elder Bernard is pretty excited because he hasn’t seen this much happen in either of these wards since he got to them three months ago. And I am excited because everything is beginning to look so much better here than it did even a week ago.

Dad: I’m so sorry that you’ve been sick so much! I know the feeling. And you are right, having the flu is a huge bummer. I guess you and Mom will have to have a belated Valentine’s Day once everything gets back to normal. I hope you feel better, too. I’m not sure if you would be able to fly to any of those places if you wanted to. Someone said thousands of flights on the east coast have been cancelled because of the weather. We sure aren’t feeling it here. Every day is sunny and 80 degrees, which seems nice until you realize that there have only been three days in the past 365 that haven’t been like that. It’s funny that on my mission I’ve been so close to many of the places that our family has lived. First Cerritos, now La Habra.

Mom: I received your Valentine’s Day package… on Valentine’s Day! Thank you. I really appreciated it. I’m sorry yours wasn’t better. I really hope Grandma and Grandpa are doing okay in Stanwood. We just had our Ward Conference, and it was also about the Hastening of the Work. I have a feeling we aren’t going to stop hearing about the Hastening of the Work until we really hasten the work we are doing. And we don’t bike much, covering an entire stake and a large, hilly ward. I will be sure to take pictures before everything here dies in the drought.

Everyone else, I love you! And I’m out of time. Because it is President’s Day, we can’t email at the library, which means we are confined to a more shorter amount of time in the Family History Center since both zones have to share a handful of computers.

I love the Lord. I love the work. And I love my family! Fique Firme!

Happy Valentine’s Day from Whittier!

Until about a week ago, I thought the Long Beach California Mission had one hill… Signal Hill. But coming up to Whittier showed me an entirely different Southern California. My companion (Elder Bernard) and I cover a singles’ ward as well as sharing a family ward with another set of missionaries. And the area our family ward covers, called La Habra Heights, is almost rural. Well, more rural than anything I’ve seen since I’ve been in California. It is completely developed, but the roads don’t have curbs, the hills are steep, and there is actually natural vegetation behind and sometimes even in front of houses. And the houses are massive and expensive. It is an extremely challenging area to work in because it is huge and full of hills and rich people with cameras and security gates who only leave their secluded houses in expensive luxury cars. A big chunk of our area is completely fenced and has armed guards surrounding a walled-off development full of multi-million dollar houses. We are living with a member who is the mayor of Whittier. The views are incredible. You can see the entire mission… all the way to the ocean, from many of the members houses in our ward. And at night, the lights go on forever.

The singles’ ward is great, but it is hard covering an entire stake. We definitely have to be extremely careful with planning so we don’t use all the miles in our car halfway through the month since it would be easy to have an appointment in the family ward 20 miles from an appointment in the singles’ ward.

Elder Bernard and I haven’t quite figured out what to do in our areas. We definitely need to work closer with our family ward and ward mission leader than we have in the past week.

Also, I woke up Saturday morning and puked all day long. It was probably the longest, most miserable day of my mission so far, but it’s over! =) I talked to our mission nurse, who said a lot of missionaries had been getting some type of 24 hour stomach flu, and I felt fine during our 6 hours of church on Sunday, although I was starving, since nothing had stayed in my stomach since I went to bed Friday night. Don’t worry, I’m completely fine now.

I’ve noticed the new zone I’m in has problems with being… “selectively obedient”. Obeying the rules they feel are important and letting other ones slide. This zone is known in the mission as the place where they “send you and forget about you” and in a lot of ways does seem pretty disconnected from the rest of the mission. It is kind of frustrating. I want to be obedient but when the missionaries around me aren’t doing the “little things” that bring the spirit I feel like I’m giving in by allowing it to happen. It is mostly things like listening to music that doesn’t bring the spirit and driving aggressively and talking to other missionaries way too casually.

Anyway, enough ranting. I’m grateful to be a missionary, for the experiences it brings that helps me strengthen my personal conversion, for watching the people we teach receive the blessings that come from the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. I read an article in the Ensign (I think) about how our attitude has more power to bring happiness than our circumstances. I’ve been thinking about that a lot and trying to learn how to apply it.

Lacey: $30,000,000 over budget? That’s insane! The pictures I’ve seen of it are incredibly beautiful… the little details really set it apart. That really does make you wonder how much the whole thing cost to build. I really hope your workload lets up a bit! It’s funny how sometimes how sometimes when we are having hard times we wait until we are at our wits’ end to turn to the atonement and the Gospel to help us make it through, when really that is the first place we should turn for strength. I know I have been guilty of that.

Mom and Dad: Moving so much as we grew up definitely prepared me for a mission. I’ve learned never to get comfortable in an area because that’s precisely when I will be transferred to another. It’s so neat, Dad, to have all of those letters from your mission. I’m sure they bring back a lot of memories.

I love everyone! Happy Valentines’ Day! Fique Firme!

Transferred again

So, partway through last transfer I randomly got moved to another area in our stake for three days and then moved back. And NOW, I’m getting transferred today to the northern border of our mission, Whittier. It’s kind of weird because transfers are still two weeks away, but a missionary is going home from his mission two weeks early and his companion needed a new companion. I’m REALLY going to miss Cypress 1st Ward, but apparently the Lord has other things in store for me. I was a little bummed when I found out I was getting transferred, especially since this is the second time in this area I got transferred in the middle of a transfer. This one will be more permanent, though. My new companion was actually Elder Starr’s district leader in the MTC, Elder Bernard.

And yes, I did receive and complete all of that fingerprinting stuff. I forgot to tell you about it. You should receive something for it, probably in a month, and then you will need to send it off to the church. I will make sure I give you the address to mail it to. I don’t have it with me today.

I LOVE reading Tyler’s emails. It brings memories back ALL THE WAY from six months ago (just kidding… that wasn’t that long ago. I love that video, “Character of Christ”, by Elder Bednar. And I love Sister Nally. She is sweet. I talked to her a lot because I played a lot of musical numbers, in the departure fireside and things like that. She is way talented.

This Fast Sunday, we fasted for rain in California. We woke up in the morning to bright, sunny skies and walked outside to pouring rain after church. It was pretty crazy. It literally had not rained in months. For the first time on my mission, I got soaked as I walked to someone’s house. It was refreshing.

We went to the temple today. It was fantastic. We saw the “new” new video. To me, it really brought to life the story of Adam and Eve and helped me see it from their perspective… go to the temple when you get another chance. They just keep getting better and better. Also, Satan was incredible. He was really subtle… he never seemed quite “evil”, just deceptive, which I think is a really accurate representation of the way he tempts us.

I love everyone!

Here are a few more pictures, Mom. Also, thank you so much for the card. I really appreciated it. One thing I have really learned on my mission is how much I really love and appreciate the things you and Dad have done for us kids… especially the sacrifices you made so we could grow up to have solid testimonies and solid faith. I love you!

Also, thank you for the scripture case. I think I might have been confused at first. It just took me a little while to figure out what the extra space on the end was for, but I think I got it figured out.

Kyle photo 1

Kyle photo 2

Kyle photo 3

Kyle photo 4

Kyle photo 5