Mariachi by Morning

November 17, 2014

I have to say, although my apartment in Studio City isn’t the nicest of missionary apartments, it’s quickly becoming my favorite. Every morning we wake up to Mariachi music, and every evening we go to bed listening to Middle Eastern music. Our apartment is right in the middle of a ton of complexes with so many different cultures represented. Lots of Latin and Middle Eastern cultures especially, and I love it. There is a sweet lady from Iran who lives in the building next to us, and she sings beautifully.  Poor Sister Cox has no idea where I’m getting all the random music stuck in my head from. She takes out her hearing aids when we get home, and doesn’t put them in in the morning until after the music has stopped. She just thinks I have a bizarre taste in music. And yes, we make lots of deaf jokes just like Sister Flake and I did. It comes with the territory. And I think I deserve it – my silly companion will turn off the lights and then start talking, so I have to crawl out of bed to turn the lights on to respond. I think I’ve smacked every joint in my body trying to flip the switch in order to respond to a question. We’re working on it, especially because we just collapse in giggles too much. :) Working and living in Studio City has been really cool. There’s a bigger mix of people here than in my previous areas, being so close to Los Angeles. We’re just a hop, skip, and a jump away from LA, so there’s a lot of people who live in Studio City or Valley Village and commute, or work here in the studios. There’s tons of recording and film studios in our stake boundaries, it’s almost ridiculous. But it’s fun, talking and walking with people who have such diverse backgrounds and stories. And it helps that Sister Cox and I have a good sense of humor about the people we meet and work with – who would have thought that two upstate NY girls would be walking the streets of LA preaching the Gospel to just about everyone? We are truly ‘colorblind’ here – we’ll talk to everyone, and they’re starting to realize it. Only one or two have straight up ran from us. ;)
 We’ve had some really cool lessons this week with our investigators, that were just orchestrated by the Lord himself. Early in the week we had a lesson with a mom (Julie, who is just returning to activity), and her 9 year old son (Hunter), who is taking the lessons and preparing to be baptized. We held it at a sister’s home, and focused on two principles – God is our loving Heavenly Father, and the Gospel blesses families, and how we need to really study the scriptures and focus on prayer. The sister whose home we had the lesson at totally saved the day – she had asked her sister to video her nephew (also named Hunter) bearing his testimony specifically for Hunter about church, prayer, and the scriptures. He shared some of his favorite scriptures from the Book of Mormon, and it was so just so sweet to see Hunter’s face light up as he saw someone his own age talking about what he was learning. We hadn’t been sure how much Hunter was really soaking in, and all of a sudden he told us everything he loved about church and about the Book of Mormon. It was really rewarding to know that he really is learning and growing in the Gospel. And it’s true – everything you need to know, you learn in Primary!! (and Kindergarten)  We had an absolutely incredible lesson with Oscar, our investigator who is from El Salvador. Last week we went to have a lesson, and he told us about his nephew who just recently passed away from cystic fibrosis at age 23. He was given six months to live at birth, and lived a joyful life for 22 1/2 years beyond that. Oscar was having a hard time reconciling his passing – the sorrow he felt, but the relief he had that his nephew was no longer suffering. We listened as he told us how joyful his nephew was, despite all of the things that occurred during his life, and how painful life was for him. We really wanted a couple to come with us to teach the next lesson, and so we prayed and prayed about who to bring.  The couple we brought, Tito and Patty, were perfect. Not only are they native Spanish speakers (they are Guatemalan), Patty knew Oscar’s nephew. We had absolutely no clue. Oscar was telling them about what was going on, and Patty just started going on and on in Spanish, and all of a sudden there were tears. We didn’t know what they were saying, but we knew what they had learned. The spirit was so strong, and we immediately understood why we felt like we needed to bring them to teach Oscar. We had an awesome lesson focusing on faith and the Book of Mormon, and I know it brought a lot of perspective, and also comfort, for Oscar to see how lovingly Patty spoke of his nephew, and how the knowledge of the Gospel was helping her to find peace. The Lord is truly in the details, even when we don’t realize it.  We had the opportunity to attend the North Hollywood stake conference this weekend, as the stake presidency was being reorganized. Elder Sitati, of the Seventy, came and gave a lot of counsel that I really loved. Almost the entirety of his remarks were centered around increasing our love for our fellow men as a way to share Christ’s love with them. One thing he said that really stuck out to me was, “no one ever resisted being loved.” Simple, but incredibly poignant when you think about sharing the Gospel. When people know you love them, truly love them and care about them, they won’t get offended when you try to share the Gospel, to share what you believe, to help them draw closer to Christ. Elder Sitati talked about a lot of things I’ve been studying and pondering lately, so it was a huge blessing to hear him speak. A lot of what he said was along the lines of my conclusions, I think the Lord just knew I needed to hear it in the gentle, rolling voice of a Kenyan who has the coolest sense of humor. I think, however, what struck me most was not what was said. All of the missionaries were invited to sing in the stake choir for theSunday morning session of conference, which was cool in and of itself. I was informed that I was to be an alto, and happily accepted, as that gave me the opportunity to sit right behind Elder Sitati and his conference companion (Elder Sayben? Sayven? I don’t know how to spell it). While I was listening, I noticed something that really struck me about the humility of this man whom the Lord had called to come reorganize the stake presidency. It was little, and at first I didn’t think much of it. I noticed that the back of his suit collar was a little worn, and a bit frayed, and that his suit coat didn’t fit quite right. I brushed it aside at first, then realized that his man, who has traveled the world over on assignments from the First Presidency, indeed, from the Lord himself, had
every right to a nice, tailored suit. And yet he wore, with all the humility a man could possibly have, a suit that was a little worn at cuff and collar without a second thought.  That, to me, is the essence of the Gospel. It’s not about you. It’s about the Lord and what He’s asked you to do. Faith overcomes fear, humility overwhelms pride, and you realize that all you want is to be on the Lord’s errand. That’s what hit me most as I sat up there, listening to the newly called and newly released presidencies speak and bear testimony of the truthfulness of the Gospel. Yeah, I have a lot to think about after only a few hours of listening to people at conference!! I just love it. Also, I can’t believe that it’s already November. And that in a few weeks it will be December. Time is seriously going by faster and faster every day that I’m out here inCalifornia. It keeps astounding me. I’m grateful for every moment of being here in San Fernando. I’m so blessed.  Love you all!
 Sister Red
Picture 1 – Sister Cox and I. She’s a selfie pro.
Sister Cox and me
Picture 2 – Told you she’s a selfie pro. :)
Selfie pro

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