Tacos with Forks

I have learned several things this week, but these are my top five:

5. Korean, if you are exhausted enough, sounds like very poorly spoken French.
4. Zone Conference is the perfect time to play bingo, guessing which missionaries will speak how many times.
3. Korean elders end nerf-gun wars with cookie treaties.
2. Canoga Park is clearly the best zone in the Valley, Spanish or English.
1. Maxi skirts are God’s promise to sister missionaries that tomorrow will be kinder.

This week seriously flew by, and next week will too. That happens when you have Zone Conference – it takes up an entire day, and it feels like it’s a week long. 9 to 5 meetings aren’t good for missionaries who are used to spending all day moving and talking with people. It was good though, we spent a lot of time focusing on our goals for 2014 and teaching simply and effectively. Such a blessing, as someone who was subject to the resurrected bumblebee gimick as a child!! (thankfully, that one never made it this far west) It was also really good to see my missionary friends from other zones, and to ensure for myself that Elder Barnett wasn’t an elder-pancake on a street somewhere in Burbank (that boy prides himself on almost being hit by cars).

Oh, and if you need proof that God answers prayers – I had been praying so hard to have no more rice for meals, and lo and behold, one of my favorite families had us over for dinner and served potatoes like they were going out of style. And I had been craving brownies all day, and she made brownies as well!

And on a serious note, our entire mission and all of the stakes in the San Fernando valley fasted for rain this past Sunday. California has been in a serious drought, and it’s become fairly dangerous, between low water levels and high risks for brush fires out in the canyons. We had a short storm on Sunday evening, just as the last wards were closing their meetings and heading home. It was such a blessing, and a real testimony on the power of prayer and fasting. We need a good amount of those storms to end the drought, but at least the storm that rolled in last evening dropped the temperatures from the eighties and nineties down to the fourties and fifties, a “proper California winter.”

Canoga Park has had it’s share of miracles this week. Ours was Maria. Maria is one of our neighbors in our apartment complex. We were just pulling home and getting a few things out of the car’s trunk when she came up and asked, “are you sisters?” We told her yes, we were missionaries, and she just completely broke down. For a few minutes, all she could get out was, “I’m going through a hard time.”

Long story short, Maria has been going through a lot of family issues which have really brought her down. She is so well prepared and is so willing to read and pray. We asked her when we first met her to read a few pages in the Book of Mormon and to pray about it, and told her we would talk about it the next day when we met in the afternoon. We had a lesson by the pool with her, and the Spirit was so strong. She ended up telling us about what she thought of Nephi and Moroni, and told us that as she prayed and read, that she had peace that she hadn’t felt in years. She’s attended several churches in the area in search of comfort and peace, and grew up Catholic in the Philipines. She came to Church on Sunday and proudly told us that she had read into the third chapter of 1 Nephi and was telling us what she thought about Lehi leaving Jerusalem. The changes were literally overnight. When we first saw her, she was in the middle of an emotional break-down, and now every time we see her she is smiling. She went home from church so excited to call her sister in the Philipines to tell her all about what she had learned. When we came home an hour and a half later, she was still on the phone to her family!

One awesome thing she told us was that she felt so safe living next to us, because the “peace” is so strong. She knows what that peace is, which is incredible, but I love that she still describes the Holy Ghost with words like “peace,” “comfort” and “love.” It really says a lot about her perception of the Spirit and of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.

Beverly, our deaf sister in the ward, has taken it upon herself to teach us to sign the lessons. It’s such fun, especially because she is so incredibly patient with me. Interpreting is so fun, but it’s so tiring. By the end of the three hour block, she’s usually relying on lip reading more than signs because my brain hurts. When you have professional interpreters, they don’t have to interpret for such long stretches of time. Bishop Payne always reminds me that if you’re not tired by the end, you’re doing it wrong. I guess that means I’m on the track to doing it right? I’m finally past the “Merry Strange,” which is a huge triumph! Also, I’m starting to be able to relay jokes better, which is generally challenging, because a lot of times they are more complicated than you realize to interpret. Someone, please tell a knock knock joke! They are SO much easier to interpret quickly!! :)

We had the opportunity to go to Korean sacrament meeting this past Sunday, which means Sister Dame sat and understood, and I sat and tried to stay awake. Korean really does sound like sloppy French when you’re as exhausted as I have been lately. The Korean branch is so fantastic though, and are so welcoming. They dote on Sister Dame – they all want to help her with her Korean. One of the matriarchs of the branch gave us each a beautiful little Korean purse, which just warmed my heart, knowing that they went out of their way to be so kind and generous. The funny moment of the day was when this teeny tiny Korean sister reached up and put her hands on my shoulders and turned me around to see how I did my hair. She kept holding onto my shoulders until Sister Dame explained how I did it, and apparently the look on my face was highly amusing, because Elder Kang burst out laughing and just walked away. Elder Yang was more polite – or he just thought it was normal.

Oh! We worked with the Young Women this week, which was an absolute blast. Sister Ewing asked us to talk about Preach My Gospel and how the girls can be missionaries now, and we weren’t sure how we could make that fun for a bunch of teenage girls. We ended up making personalized Young Women MMPKs (Member Missionary Preparedness Kits) and doing a fun activity about their examples. One at a time the girls stood infront of the chalk board while others wrote what things they loved about them and what made them good examples to others. We snapped a photo and erased it before they could look. We haven’t quite figured out what to do with the photos that is cool, but we’ll get there. It was great to get to know the girls and establish friendships with them. We’ve had several text us with ideas about missionary work or asking for our thoughts on certain situations. I love the Chatsworth ward so much!

And in other news, we ate tacos with a fork this week. At a member’s home. It was a struggle, and the most ridiculous thing I have ever done. We live with so many Hispanics, we should all know how to eat tacos. Chopsticks are one thing, tacos are quite another!! That dinner was kind of the metaphor to my life this week, so I had to share. :)

All the love from CA-SFER,

Sister Red

Photo 1 – All the sisters in CPZ.

Photo 2 – CPZ in a nutshell.
Photo 3 – Pomegranates at Zone Conference, minus Elder Nielson. He’s trapped in Valencia.
Photo 4 – The girls insisted we get photos too.
Photo 5 – Hannah.
Photo 6 – Bailey.
Photo 7 – Shannon.
Photo 8 – Sister Dame!

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