November 3, 2014
Transfer calls are in I’m leaving Mission Hills after a total of seven and a half months of serving in the ward on two separate occasions. Yesterday was pretty hard, saying goodbye to all the members here who have truly become like my family here in California. It’s crazy to think that I’ve served almost half my mission in this area, with this same group of people. It’s hard to say ‘aloha’ to one of my favorite wards. This past week was pretty fun. We found out that Elder Quizon had never celebrated Halloween before, so we decided to make our very own costumes to wear to the combined Northridge/Mission Hills Halloween party and Trunk or Treat. I never thought that a piece of poster board, gold sharpies, and some ribbon would make an elder so happy. He had decided that since there were four of us MH missionaries, we ought to be a set of scriptures, or a quad. Elder Villejo was the Old Testament (because he’s the oldest), Elder Quizon was the New Testament, and then Sister Johnson was The Book of Mormon while I was the Doctrine & Covenants. It was a hit, I don’t think we’ve ever had so many members want to talk to us, and strike up the conversation on their own!! It was pretty fun. Except for the part where we had to be with our elders the entire evening, otherwise the ‘quad’ idea would make no sense. ;) Also, I think the first movie I need to see when I get home is Frozen. ALL of our little kids (and Elder Quizon) are always singing “Let it go! Let it go!” and half the Primary girls were dressed as Elsa from the movie. My favorite was Priscilla, who is so dark, it made her little wig look neon blonde. She had tons of fun stealing candy and pass along cards from the elders all night. :) Priscilla is a riot – she apparently told one of her neighbors that “if you don’t believe in Halloween, you don’t believe in Heaven!!” the things that Primary kids tell people. I’m about to bring them all tracting with me. I feel like people would talk to us more if we had cute little kids telling them all about Primary and singing songs about melting snowmen!! We also made jam this week with Food Forward, which was a blast. I love doing homemake-y stuff like that (don’t tell the elders). We made around 150 jars of nectarine jam that will be sold to fund more non-profit work with the local food pantries. Sister Ryane came along, as well as the elders, so it was quite the party in a little professional kitchen with other volunteers. It was worth the sticky, burned fingers to watch Elder Quizon and Elder Villejo learn to make jam. We had a lot of fun, and got to bring a jar home each of us. It’s so good!! And lucky me, I snagged a copy of the recipe as well. I love that I am able to collect recipes from my mission. It’s a blast. Watch out, family, prepare to be fed in four and a half months. My last Sunday in Mission Hills was pretty awesome. It was fast and testimony meeting, and about half of our youth got up to bear their testimony. On Saturday they got to go to an all-day youth event, FYI (For Your Inspiration) in another stake. I love working with youth and helping them to really find their testimonies and feel the spirit, so it was really cool to see them all practically glowing as they stood behind the pulpit bearing witness of what they know to be true. One of them, Jayo, stood up and barely started speaking when his little two year old nephew yelled from the back of the chapel at the top of his lungs, “HI, UNCLE JAYO!!” Jayo’s testimony was so solid he talked about how he was listening to Alex Boye speak (yeah, I am officially jealous) talk about The Book of Mormon. He talked about how we don’t read the scriptures, we study the scriptures. You read something, and you’re done with it. You’re never done with the scripturesJayo talked about how he (Alex Boye) shared a story about giving a copy of The Book of Mormon to a friend, and five weeks later, asked him what he thought. The friend said it was good, and left it at that. He gave him a new copy, and challenged him to read it again. When he came back five weeks later, his friend was raving about how he loved the new edition, how he found so many different things that he really needed at that time. The trick? That’s how it works every time we study the scriptures. You always find something new that the Lord needs you to know, and He always provides specific and individual counsel in the verses. It’s been one of the biggest blessings to be able to regularly studying the scriptures as a missionary, and I love being able to study with members as well. The scriptures, paired with prayer and meditation, are one of our most powerful tools we have to receive counsel and guidance as we face mortality. I’m so thankful I got to serve as long as I did in Mission Hills, despite how tough it was at times. I learned so much about the power of the atonement and about humility. The families here have taught me so much about how the Atonement works in families, and how to be a voice of truth and fight for the Gospel, as well as enduring trials with grace and an open, teachable heart. I loved being able to have real relationships with individual members and learn from them over meals and during church. I learned so much about the individual Christ-like attributes as exemplified by our members. They always give from the heart, even when they might not have a lot. I’ve been so blessed to serve with these incredible people. Any more explanation of them, and I’ll probably start crying. I’m going to miss this area. Bishop, at the linger longer after church, called me out on not bearing my testimony the last Sunday I was in the ward, but I think the look on my face sufficed – were I to get up behind that pulpit and see all these people I love, the tears would have been unstoppable. I love these people. I am grateful for the people I have served and the missionaries I have served with. I’m so blessed!! Next email, and I’ll be in a new area with a new companion!
Picture 1 – The Quad. Scripture power, right here
.Picture 2 – Elsa, The Doctrine & Covenants, and The New Testament.