This week was so busy, and none of our days went according to plan. Each night, we sit down and plan out the next day. Usually it’s a pretty good reflection of what actually happens, but not this week. Both Sister Johnson and I are ready for a preparation day nap after a long, hot, and hard week here in Mission Hills. No rest for the weary. :)
Early in the week, we were in the middle of lunch when one of our neighbors knocked on our door – he had accidentally backed into our car, leaving a huge gash and a dent. Insert so much paperwork here. We had to put everything else aside to run up to Valencia, fill out more paperwork, and enter information online with Elder Hall before running home in time for a dinner appointment. We thought we were done, but the next morning (before the time anyone should call a missionary), Elder Hall called and told us we needed to take the care down to a body shop in Reseda for an estimate. We got lost, and that took more time. Luckily, it was a day where we do our weekly planning, so we were able to essentially do that on the move.
From the sounds of it, it’s been a tough week for our mission all around. The heat has been pretty tough on most of us (except for the Islanders who are absolutely indestructable), but we’re pushing through it. We wear a LOT of sunscreen in this mission! There’s not tons of shade here like there is at home – probably because palm trees don’t cast much of a shadow, no matter if they’re 100 feet tall.
We had zone training this week, which was a little tough to sit through, but it really got all of us fired up to recommit ourselves, especially as we prepare for the mission conference that will be held this week with Elder Carlson of the Seventy. I’m so excited for the conference, and am hoping it will be similar to the conference we had with Elder Kopishke about a year ago. Elder Carlson asked each of us to prepare a talk centered around becoming a consecrated missionary, which Sister Johnson and I have been working steadily on this week during our personal and companionship studies. I’ve decided to focus mine around loyalty, which is incredibly important to me.
I love Elder Holland’s observation in his talk “The First Great Commandment” (from October 2012 General Conference) that “the crowning characteristic of love is always loyalty.” In becoming a consecrated missionary, loyalty is key. Loyalty to the Lord, and loyalty to the covenants we make. In return, we receive the blessings and comforts of the Lord’s loyalty to each of his children who strive to love him without reserve. Loyalty and charity are something that have really impacted my mission for me as an individual, and I have seen it influence the missions of those I serve with in incredible ways.
I’ve read “The First Great Commandment” over and over in the past year, and always find something that I need, or something that I need to apply. I love this quote from the talk:
“If ye love me, keep my commandments,’ Jesus said. So we have neighbors to bless, children to protect, the poor to lift up, and the truth to defend. We have wrongs to make right, truths to share, and good to do. In short, we have a life of devoted discipleship to give in demonstrating our love of the Lord. We can’t quit and we can’t go back. After an encounter wtih the living Son of the living God, nothing is ever again to be as it was before. The Crucifixion, Atonement, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ mark the beginning of a Christian life, not the end of it. It was this truth, this reality, that allowed a handful of Galilean fishermen-turned-again-Apostles without ‘a single synagogue or sword’ to leave those nets a second time and go on to shape the history of the world in which we now live.”
I love that the Mission Hills ward is really trying to exemplify that call that Christ gave on the shores of Galilee to “feed my sheep” (John 21:15-17). I love working in this area with our members. This Sunday we had a linger longer after our 3-hour block, which was a blast. We always have lots of fun talking and hanging out with our members, especially when there is food involved. Priscilla is one of my favorite Primary girls – we were in the middle of sacrament meeting, and all of a sudden this little hand is pushing me over, and she climbs on up to sit beside me for the rest of the meeting. She was glued to our side during the linger longer, which made everything more fun. She’s a cutie. We got a double dose, because we got to do a Family Home Evening with her and her siblings this week as well.
We have done a lot of less-active work this week – visiting people we haven’t seen in a while, to see how they were doing and invite them back. I love working with less-active members, they generally tend to love having the missionaries over, which is a huge blessing. I think it helps that there is a little bit of sympathy somewhere in there, what with us appearing on their doorstep drenched in sweat and slightly sunburnt.
We also had the opportunity to help teach Relief Society. Sister Ryane (Relief Society President) had asked us to share how we study the scriptures as missionaries, which is something I was more than happy to talk about. Becoming more familiar with the scriptures over the past year has been one of the biggest blessings of serving a mission for me personally. It’s drawn me closer to my Heavenly Father and to my Savior, and has helped me to overcome innumerable challenges in the past 12 months. I love having that time to just sit down and talk with God! :)
Oh, just to make you laugh – we went to the Filipino market last Monday after emailing to put together a little package for Sister Johnson’s brother. Our elders and the Granada Hills sisters were there, which made it a party. 3 of the elders are Filipino, so they were super excited to be finding candies and snacks they grew up with, and were tossing them into their cart like little kids that went grocery shopping with mom. It was pretty hilarious. And then Sister Smalley and Sister Finau were just over the moon to find ingredients (like that giant jackfruit the size of a baby) that they were familiar with.
I’m so excited for this upcoming week, between Mission Conference and the plans that Sister Johnson and I have for the week. Hopefully I’ll remember to take photos (yes, mom, I did get your post-script about not sending enough photos home).
Remember, shaka to trials!
Picture 1 – Sister Smalley with a jackfruit we found at the Filipino Market
Picture 2 – My buddy Priscilla.
Picture 3 – Elder Villejo, Sister Johnson, me, and Elder Lee.