17 February, 2015
If there’s no better smell than cigarettes in sacrament meeting, then there’s no better sound than water running in the church. Hunter got baptized on Sunday, and goodness, we saw so many tender mercies along the way. Since we set a date with Hunter, he’d been nervous about being baptized. Being a nine year old, his biggest concern was if his Uncle Jesse was going to hold him under the water too long, and he was nervous about his baptismal interview. Luckily, Elder Wollenzien, who conducted the interview, is one of the sweetest elders on the face of the planet. While he was interviewing Hunter, we sat out in the foyer with his companion, Hunter’s mom, and some Chipotle a member was kind enough to buy for our dinner. Hunter came out of the interview all smiles, and a lot calmer about baptism than he had been before.
The day of the baptism was all chaos. We’d called a few weeks ago to schedule the baptismal font, but it ended up that two baptisms had been scheduled for 5 o’clock on Sunday afternoon – one in the English stake and one in the Spanish stake. Thankfully, it got all worked out: the hermanas (Spanish sisters) were able to move their baptism up to 4 o’clock, we took the 5 o’clock slot, and the Spanish elders held their baptism at 6. Talk about running water!
We were stunned at how many came out to support Hunter, and his cousin Bryce. We had over FIFTY people in attendance, including the entire North Hollywood stake presidency, members from the Encino ward in the Granada Hills stake,and President Hall himself. That took us off guard – President doesn’t just show up to baptisms on the opposite end of the mission! It was a real blessing, because after Hunter and Bryce had been baptized and changed, President took a few minutes to talk with them briefly. He called up Elder Mathews and Elder Jacobson, who had shared the message of the Restoration while the boys were changing, and talked with Bryce and Hunter about one day serving missions. It was sweet to see the look of awe on their little faces, looking up at our elders and realizing that one day they could serve too.
It’s been such a blessing to have been part of the process of Hunter being baptized. He and his mom have been through a lot in the past years, and it’s been such an awesome experience to see Hunter grow closer to his Heavenly Father over the past months, and come to know that he can rely on Him and upon the Savior in all things. One thing I love about Hunter is he always refers to God as ‘dear Heavenly Father.’ It’s much more profound than he realizes, and I love it.
We had exchanges this week as well, with the Sister Training Leaders. Sister Marsh stayed in Studio City, while Sister Wensel and I worked in Sylmar. Exchanges are always fun – you get to switch it up, talk to new people, and be able to work in a different setting for a few hours. It’s crazy to think that this was my last exchange!
I’m really thankful for the district I am in right now. It’s just Sister Marsh and I with six elders, but we love it. It’s fun to be able to see each other at least once a week, and we were just blown over by the support we had from them for Hunter’s baptism. We were running around trying to smooth things over, and the elders just came up, without hesitation, and started doing what needed to be done – placing programs, getting the boys their white clothing, setting up chairs, finding hymnals (that weren’t in Spanish), talking with people as they came in. They are each lifesavers!
We went as a district to City Walk (Universal) on Monday afternoon, which was a riot. Imagine six overgrown boys (they had turned into boys the minute they saw a giant
Spongebob) wandering in and out of shops, getting excited about the Pokemon and super hero stuff everywhere. It was pretty fun. We love them a lot, and it’s going to be hard to leave the district in a few weeks. It’s like a strange little family. We had to laugh – Elder Okojie was sick, and we had to do their grocery shopping for them (they’re on bike, and were in no condition to go out). Elders do NOT know how to go grocery shopping in this mission! Their list consisted of “banana [just one], bagels, water, and ramen.” It was pretty funny, but it was good to be able to help them out in a pinch. We decided that if either of us dying on a preparation, we’re still buying our own groceries, because if they elders shopped for us, we’d surely die. :)
Oh! Cool moment of the week! We were trying to find a less-active member and ran into a super-famous YouTuber, Julian Smith. We got out of the car and struck up a conversation about baby leashes of all things, while Sister Marsh was secretly freaking out. He was super nice, which was really refreshing. We get a lot of slammed doors, rude and mean people, and craziness in this area, so it’s always a nice thing when we find that someone is ‘normal’ and although uninterested, still kind with a good sense of humor. So if Julian Smith ever does a video about Mormon missionaries… you know who inspired it!
Otherwise, all is well in Studio City! The ward is in a bit of a freak-out mode what with both Elder Mathews and I leave for home in a few weeks, but everyone will survive (hopefully). We are looking forward to a bunch of lessons and appointments this week, so all should be busy. I can’t believe I will be able to see everyone in just a few weeks! Time has gone so incredibly fast, it’s almost scary. I got my flight plans and departing information (temple trip, interviews, info about luggage, etc), which was a real moment of realization. Time is short! I plan on making the best of it, busted knee or no. Though I’m trying not to run Sister Marsh into the ground before the transfer’s through. That would be mean.
Lots of love!
PS – don’t laugh, I’m super excited for the cold! I got a sunburn teaching last week, and it just hurts… especially because everyone keeps patting my arm for some reason. :/