(This is last week’s letter. Sorry for the delay!!!)
Hola from the sunny state of California, where it is almost October and still disgustingly hot! It has cooled down a bit here, but I think of fall at home and can hardly believe that I’m surrounded by palm trees.
I have begun writing down things that I want to write home about on a post-it and keeping it in my planner so I remember. The days are long, but the weeks fly by it seems. So, from the post-it:
I forgot last week to share a cool experience we had with a sister in our ward, Gloria. We got a note from some sisters up in Santa Clarita, asking us to tell her that they had begun teaching her sister the lessons. We went over to Gloria’s house, and she’s rushing around trying to pack up her home so that she can move to Granada Hills within the next few days. She takes a minute to sit and talk with us, and we are able to tell her that her sister has begun to take the lessons and is thinking about being baptized. The look in her eyes was incredible. She was overcome with joy and began to cry, thanking us for the news we bore to her. It was something she never thought would happen, her sister having an interest in the Gospel. For a fleeting moment, I caught a glance of how Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ feel when someone opens their door to the missionaries and invites them inside to teach them and talk with them. It was such an overwhelming experience, yet so simple and beautiful. I am so thankful that Heavenly Father lends me these glances at eternity as I serve the people here in Mission Hills.
As missionaries, we receive referrals from Salt Lake and from other missionaries within the San Fernando and Santa Clarita vallleys. We got a referral from a set of Spanish elders with a name and an address. We drive over to the address and the only thing around is a Buddhist Meditation Temple. We were wicked confused. We called Sister Pastor, who is in charge of referrals and she just sighed and started reading us the text the Spanish elders had sent her: “Jack let us drive his remote control car. He’s super chill. We gave him a Jesus pass-along card.” They had then apparently called and asked her if the mission home had any Buddhist Book of Mormons. What?? She asked if they meant Thai or some similar language, and they insisted it be a Buddhist copy of the Book of Mormon. We just about died laughing. We shared it with our zone, and now we’re determined to find out who it was. The positive is that we now know what a Buddhist temple in California looks like. Bright yellow.
This week we had exchanges with our Sister Training Leaders, meaning that I served for an afternoon/evening in the Northridge YSA ward with Sister Cottrell while Sister Stewart and Sister Kemp took care of our appointments in Mission Hills. I really enjoyed being able to work with Sister Cottrell. I always learn so much from her. We were able to teach a lesson and go to meet with an inactive 19 year old girl named Genesis. We had a blast getting to know Genesis and inviting her to some of the YSA activities. Her family is from El Salvador, and just as we walked to the front door to leave, her mom came and ushered us back to the table and fed us each a bowl of pumpkin prepared in a traditional Salvadorean way. It was delicious. She offered to teach us how to cook Salvadorean food, and I got so excited… only to remember that I don’t actually serve in that area. Bummer!
We had some exciting things happen this week with our investigators. Fredy prayed for the first time in front of us! It was such a sweet and sincere prayer, and we were so excited. Till the other night, he had always said, “next time, next time,” and Gina ended up praying. It made us so happy. And to top it off, we were explaining about General Conference, and they both want to watch as much as they can, even though they’ll be down in Long Beach for the weekend! We gave them the link to watch it online. We finally got ahold of another of our investigators, Dawnielle, and was able to go to her apartment and talk with her and her daughters. She’s a single mother, and they are really struggling. Dawnielle is the sweetest woman on the face of the planet, and has such a strong desire that her children have a relationship with Jesus Christ. Her youngest, Alexis (5), flat out asked us, “can I come to church with you?” Her oldest daughter, Kila (14), was all about the questions. She asked us anything that came to her mind, which was really refreshing. She’s smart as a whip, and genuinely wants to know what a relationship with the Savior can do for her. We gave her her own copy of the Book of Mormon to read, and told her to text us if anything else came to mind. Dawnielle’s third daughter, Cheyenne (10), is the sweetest, quietest girl I’ve met out here. She has slight special needs, but is so artistic and so creative. She loves art, and we are determined to find her a few pictures of the Savior. I showed her a picture on the passalongs we have, and I’ve never seen someone hold something so tight. She spent the entire lesson tracing her fingers over Christ’s face. That really touched me. We are excited to go back and talk with them more and get to know them better.
So as a mission, we are working on helping members become more comfortable with sharing the Gospel with their friends and neighbors. We put together Member Missionary Preparedness Kits (MMPKs) and share them with families in our ward (generally when they feed us dinner). It’s a really cool tool that they can use. We help them set a goal of what they want to do to share the gospel (it may be anything from praying for investigators to sharing a copy of the Book of Mormon with someone), and give them the materials they need: a copy of the Book of Mormon, and a few pass along cards (and some mormon.org
cards). We talk to them about sharing the gospel and offer ideas and suggestions. It’s really cool to get a text from someone telling us they accomplished their goal of sharing the gospel with this person or that person.
I love being a missionary, and being known as someone who follows Christ. The other night, we were walking out of the apartment when one of the neighbor girls who is about 4 or 5 said from across the hall, “Hey! Do you guys believe in Jesus?” We told her yes, we believed in Jesus, and she just turned around and hollered right up the stairs, “MOM! I TOLD YOU THEY BELIEVED IN JESUS!!!” and then scampered into her house with a wave. It was the most adorable thing. Fredy and Gina’s son, Adrian (4), associates us with Christ too. We walk in the house, and he points to the picture of the Savior they have in their kitchen, then runs off to grab his mom’s Book of Mormon from the living room, all within 2.5 seconds. It’s adorable. Out of the mouth of babes, right?
Funny/sad story of the week… the toilet in our apartment exploded. We spent most of Saturday trying to fix it and get our bathroom clean again. It was absolutely miserable, especially because we had to cancel a lunch appointment. Insert all the Fred and George Weasley jokes you want here.
Thank you everyone for your love and support. It means so much to me to know that even when days are hard here, I have people back home praying for me. Hopefully I’ll be able to have a more exciting email next week.
PS – I can hardly believe that on Saturday I hit my one month mark!!! What???