Thank you so much for your absolutely wonderful email today! I feel so happy and grateful that we are all able to learn and grow as we journey through this beautiful life that God has given us.
Word up to Jackson. BYU will be sweeeeet!
Today is transfers and I will be staying in the Oceanside first ward and will not be covering the YSA ward any longer. So I will get a new companion today. This transfer was only 5 weeks to accommodate the change in the MTC schedule. In the Carlsbad zone we will be getting 7 new missionaries and 2 wards are splitting and will have 2 sets of missionaries serving in them. The work is hastening.
When we went to go get shoes from bishop Remington's I remember him making a comment about shoes wearing out because of the way that missionaries prayed the longer that they had been in the mission. He said that new missionaries kept the shoes flat when they prayed and the older missionaries were so tired that they squished the shoes. So I try to always pray in a way that is nice to the shoes, but it is getting harder and harder to keep myself up and my feet flat.
I love being a missionary and there is so much good that comes from serving. I am going to send some pictures now!
Life sounds like it is fun back home! That is always good to hear. Sean Fenner was baptized on Saturday and I confirmed him on Sunday, I had never done that before, but it was a wonderful experience to give the gift of the Holy Ghost and give a blessing. We gave a lot of blessings this week. I am grateful for the priesthood and the opportunity I have to get to use it often. We always call in the home teachers first, but in emergencies we are there in a flash.
A little clarification on last week's CrazyRadar, the drunk/drugged guy we met was harmless. There have been times when situations have been potentially dangerous, but just another reason why I am thankful for the Holy ghost is because we know that we need to leave.
This week we don't have too many meetings to plan for and no other big meetings to go to, so we are happy to just be out talking to everyone and making lots of visits. We are still teaching the "3 amigos" (Jilbert, Brian and Marcos), they came to the baptism and they said they want to be baptized, so they are working towards March 9! We have been trying to help their parents come to church, but they just support their boys in learning more and do not want to come themselves. the parents like that we teach them why they shouldn't join gangs. It really hit me hard this week why I need to help these boys. President Cook stresses that missionaries need to have urgency in the work. We hear about people that "plant seeds" and that is true, there are those people we talk to who have hearts only open enough to say thanks, but no thanks. I am convinced though, that there are also those who are "white already to harvest". We could treat the amigos like we are planting a seed and waiting until they are further along in life for someone else to come along and help them receive the restored gospel, and that might be the best course of action for them. However, if we do not do all that we can do and we find that they got involved with gangs and one got shot, I would feel a bullet pierce my own heart.
We met a man whose son is in jail right now because of gang violence and we told the amigos about this and they really understood. The cool hanging out, leads to cool fights and stuff, but what they don't want to accept is that it gets out of hand and there are consequences. The man whose son is in jail had told his son these things, but the son did not listen. he said he would do anything to help his son, but the son would not let him help. That morning I had read Alma 19 and a scripture in that chapter came to mind (I can't remember it now, but when I needed it, it was brought to my remembrance). The scripture talked about how Ammon was preserved because of his father's prayers in his behalf. The man was comforted by that scripture.
I am grateful for loved ones who pray for me that I may be safe and do the work that I am here to do. I know that this work is the work of God and I want to really do all that I can to help bring to pass his purpose.
Thank you for the email and happy birthday to Jackson! Rocio Rochel up in Laguna Niguel got baptized on his birthday, so that was wonderful, even though I couldn't go.
This week has been very administrative. We planned, prepared and presented a zone training meeting about planning and had a member of the stake presidency come speak to us. President Cook says a lot of great things, but in this context (missionary work) he says that "Planning is disciplined questioning about our purpose under the influence of the holy ghost." So we made bookmarks that had a reminder to get a spiritual P.U.I. (planning under the influence) and it had a scout song that dad used to sing to me before I went to bed about being prepared. I sang it in the meeting and realized how much more comfortable I am performing behind the barrier of a piano then in front of people that can see me and I can see them. It was not a big deal though.
I have never cared so much about being organized as I do now. I honestly didn't care much before my mission about being organized, but now I go on cleaning sprees in the morning to make sure everything is either in its place or has a place where it is being utilized effectively. This organization enables me to do exactly what I am expected to do; no more, no less. At the end of last transfer things were rolling and we had our system down, but Elder Hammar knew the area and was the boss man of the organization, but now I know the area and have to keep things organized. The mission (and I dare say life) is a cyclical process (ex. pride cycle in the Book of Mormon, the setting and breaking of New Year's resolutions each year, etc...) and in my words we start with fundamentals, like planning, studying, teaching and finding and then we build on that by following-up effectively on invitations that have been extended. Faith is the last part of the cycle: after we have done our best we need to trust that God can do the rest. All that to say I am starting with the fundamentals again and going around the circle to strengthen my conversion and ability to be an effective emissary of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The gospel was likened unto a garden of our lives. We need to week out the bad and plant good in our lives, like repenting and reading the scriptures. I thought of it more this week while I was organizing and feel like it is also similar to cleaning a house. The house must be free of spot and stain, but things also all need to have a place, like stopping bad habits and spending your time doing good things. So that was my thought of the week, thanks for listening.
Last Tuesday I ate a huge and juicy and delicious pastrami burger. Then we went home and finished preparing zone training meeting and went to bed. Then I woke up at three in the morning and threw up the huge, juicy and delicious pastrami burger. During the day I drank coke-cola. I feel better now, but watch out for huge, juicy delicious pastrami burgers from sleazy corner restaurants.
Fun experience last night, we stopped by an investigator who just returned from Hawaii a yesterday to see how they were doing and set up a return appointment. On the way back to the car there was a garage door open, so we went to go talk to whoever might be in there. (By the way, God commands us to talk to literally everyone. It is a divine directive to open our mouths. So the reason for CrazyRadar is to hold myself accountable to God by sharing some of the more memorable encounters brought about by obeying the direction of God) Anyways we walked around the corner and this guy was sitting in this chair staring straight ahead and we said "Hey, How are you doing?" Then he jumped out of the chair and ran over to us and said that we must be the Mormons. Yes sir, we are. He said "always respect, hoorah, always respect" We asked what he was up to and his name and if he had ever talked to missionaries and typical questions we ask people when we first meet them. Following is a brief representation of a few of his answers:
"How tall do they stack you, boy?"
"Always respect, hoorah, always respect"
"Sorry about the long hair, I know I am out of date."
"See that light... 2000 meters away? I could hit it with this broom."
"Do you know what a marine is?"
"Always respect, hoorah, always respect"
"I gotta clean this glass up"
"Don't tell my neighbors that I am working for him. He gave me a job for four days."
"That guy down there could put you in a trash can."
"I used to raid my own house for valuables"
"Always respect, hoorah, always respect"
I could go on and on about what he said, but that is probably enough to give a glimpse of who he was. My favorite part was that when he talked to us he grabbed my arm and got really close to my face. He would have done the same to Elder George, but my companion was smart enough to take a step back.
We had a wonderful zone conference yesterday. President Cook really is so inspired and such a good example. He taught us the gospel and taught us how to teach and ask questions. Then he taught us:
"We are not teaching what we know, we are teaching who we are."
I cannot think of a better way to put it. We are children of God. He knows us, He loves us and He wants us to be happy. If there is anyone who is reading this and does not know that or does not believe that, come talk to me. If you are a family member or friend then you can't come talk to me, but write me a letter:
Dear mother, father, sister, brother(s), Hi, glad to hear that everyone is staying busy. I am really quite upset about that weasel. Only 5 hens!! You need more chicks, man. Glad to hear that you have finished Alma, I am entrenched in the war chapters and finding hidden treasures about the Gospel in each chapter.
A few high-lights of the week:
- I went on exchanges to the Spanish missionary's area and got to teach Felipe again! He is scheduled for baptism this Saturday. I gave away un Libro de Mormon all by myself.
- In the YSA ward, Sean is getting baptized next Saturday and random people come to activities and want to learn more, which is always what we like to hear!
- The 4 amigos came to church on Sunday! Have I told you about them? Marcos, Jilbert, Jose and Brian are 4 young men who live in the same neighborhood and we talked to Marcos and Jilbert one day and gave them each a Book of Mormon. They read the first 5 chapters and took notes by the next week when we came back to see how they were doing. We taught the first lesson and have been reading with them ever since.
- Zone leader council was a wonderful discussion about using time wisely and Christ-like leadership. Tomorrow Elder George and I will be conducting a meeting for the missionaries in the stake and we will all become better planners together, yipee!!
-A man who we talked to and asked how he was doing and he told us how the Superbowl went, play-by-play and he said that since the media is just corrupt, then the world is just corrupt, and he is not very good and he just wants people to stop and look at the birds and the flowers. He is also a golfer, which made me think of Uncle Pete, (sorry about the Niners)
-Gangster who was "just posting" (meaning on the lookout for something) and told us that he was not working or anything, because his legs were broken. They were all bandaged up and we asked what happened, and he told us it was too much beer. Crazy
- Last one for the week, Bouncer who swaggered by dressed in black and said hi. I stuck out my hand for a handshake and to get him to stop and he said a lot of bad words that condenses down to "You don't want to shake my hand; I have someone else's blood on it" he said that he prays everyday, but he also smooths people out when they try to swipe alcohol from his joints. He was actually super nice and said "Brothers, from the heart, I really admire the work that you are doing." That was cool.
The work is going well here. I wish I could say that I was doing something to make it be going so well, but the Lord is in charge here. Alma 13:26 (or maybe 24) says that Angels are preparing the hearts of many at this time in our land to hear the gospel and get ready for Christ to come again. The good that is done through the church is in preparation for the second coming of the Messiah. A personal relationship with God is essential, but that cannot be the sole means of worship. God wants us to assemble together and labor as one to bring to pass His purpose. I know that we are all engaged in this work. I pray that we can be strengthened this week to put our shoulders to the wheel and help someone else. Mosiah 2:17