Friday, October 25, 2013

Week 44 (10/14-10/21)

Well this week was full of cancellations to say the least!! If I remember all of them correctly, 11 lessons were cancelled! But surprisingly as we were making calls last night to district leaders, the little we did get to do every day this past week added up! So it was a good week. Saw some miracles. Taught the gospel. And all that jazz! Can't believe next week is Halloween and then October is over!! Strange.. then comes Thanksgiving! But lets not get too ahead of myself.
     Monday was typical. We finished up the evening with a diner with our Bishop in the family ward and his superb of a cook wife! Seriously every time we have dinner with them it is a very formal set up and a few courses and just awesome! But we were informed that a new ARMENIAN MEMBER had moved in not too far away from the Church and had actually come to church the pastSunday and that it was a family! So of course I wanted to investigate and meet this family! Turns out it was this woman and her daughter, Caroline and Karina, who had joined the church 11 years ago in Virginia with her, her husband, son and daughter who are now 18 and 14 respectively! But only Caroline and Karina are here right now and Haibert the son is waiting for them to find their own apartment! So that was super exciting! We gave them a blessing because the next day was Karina's first day of school and she was pretty stressed. So glad we could help them out! Then we rode back over to the church to catch the last big of G7 FHE where the dancers in the ward had taught everyone 'Thriller'. Unfortunately we got there too late to learn but as we arrived we insisted for an encore and they performed for us! Not too shabby!
     Tuesday was a bit slow. ish. We went up to GCC with the expectation to do the booth up on campus but as we were finishing up our studies up there, Elder Winfield started to talk to Elder Frost (one of the senior couples who serve in G2 but work up at the institute teaching as well) about a family that he has been friends with forever and who knows a bunch of the leadership in the ward and they aren't members. So while they talked Elder Whitney and I got to get to know some of the less active members who hang out around the institute and play pool with them. Yes it was an effective use of time to play pool with a bunch of members! We then headed over to Annie and Joe's place because Joe had to go to court and Annie said she needed some company. Well we got there and she had a nurse over so she had to literally 'shoo' us away. Well okay then! The rest of the evening wasn't too exciting. We had dinner with the Allison family. Brother Allison told us about these two Elders when he was the ward mission leader that were teaching this family and then the mother died. They attended the funeral some time later and found that the family didn't have money to have a priest from their church to conduct so the mother's sister was trying to coordinate everything. The elders went into the funeral and were asked by the daughters to say a few things. They got up and felt prompted to teach everyone how to pray. After bearing testimony of the Plan of Salvation to this congregation of about 150 people they left the chapel and people followed them out wanting to learn more. He went on to tell us how they began to teach 25,50, 100, most of the people who were in the funeral as the weeks passed and eventually they all got baptized. Thought that was a pretty remarkable story I'd share! That night we had a lesson with Stuart at the church. We went over what he had learned from Conference and what really stuck out to him was family was the center of it all. He had I guess approached his Mom while he was visiting them in Arizona that weekend about going on a mission and getting financial help and she was so approving and supportive! Which surprised him and thrilled us. He was a little worried about him going out at a later age but we told him that it didn't matter but it'd give him an added measure of strength of testimony. He's seriously pretty inspiring to hear how determined he is to know these things are true and to serve a mission.
     Wednesday we went up to GCC institute again to have two lessons.... both cancelled. So we had some lunch and then decided to capitalize on the opportunity to teach this one girl that Khoa had met named Cherry. She agreed and we had an awesome lesson with Elisse there to help! we taught her about what we did as missionaries which was her question! So we got to explain a little about the Restoration and the Book of Mormon and even invited her to be baptized and she said she would! So that was awesome. Gotta love that. Later that afternoon we had to make a supply run to the office and then headed back for dinner with the Chadsey's. I gotta say having multiple sets of missionaries in one ward/at dinner appointments makes things really fun and lively! we had to run after we finished though because our evening was jammed with lessons back to back. we biked over to the central building to meet up with this girl from G7, Caitlyn Cope, who is good friends with Francesca, and decided to help her do some missionary work with some of her friends who she wants to invite to learn. After that we had her and Khoa drop us off at the Knight house where we talked with Brother Knight (Young men's president or advisor or something) to see how and if we could do more missionary work with the youth to get them involved. He gave us some great people to go by and some ideas of teaching their class and coming this Tuesday (tomorrow) to mutual to play dodgeball! Gonna be sweet. After that we stopped by the Bazil's again to prepare for teaching Sister Bazil's friend, Melissa, who hasn't been to church since she was a teenager. Just love being able to work with all these families and have them bring their friends to learn with us! Such a great experience. Just love being on mission.
     Thursday we had district meeting in our own district finally. Funny thing though. We were dropping off supplies to the district up in La Crescenta area and as we were pulling out to leave this companionship rides past us on their bikes on the sidewalk and I have no idea how but one of the Elders hit the curb and flew off his bike onto the grass. He wasn't hurt at all but it was just hilarious. Kind of had to be there. Anyways after district meeting we were supposed to have another lesson with this girl Cynthia but she forgot she was meeting with us and so we had to stick around and wait for her. But while we waited we taught Cherry again a short lesson! But even before that, all three of us were sitting in different groups of people at the institute talking/teaching people about some aspect of missionary work/the Gospel and it was awesome. I was talking to Cherry about the Plan of Salvation because she had a lot of questions about life after death. But then we went in and taught her an actual quick lesson about her questions and relating it to the Book of Mormon. She accepted a baptismal date for 24 November and said she'd start coming to Church! (Which she did!). After that Cynthia finally made it and she asked for me specifically not to be in the lesson and to just have Elders Winfield, Whitney and Khoa teach her. (Came to find out the reason why she didn't want me there was because I was to 'Happy'. Which makes sense because she isn't a very happy person because of her younger years being bullied and such which makes me sad. But yeah. I thought it was funny though. her texts said "I just don't want Blondie there".) So they taught and I talked with the institute teacher and this other member Frank 'The Tank' Silva. Still makes me laugh looking back. I mean who tells a missionary they are too happy? HONESTLY! Later that evening we had dinner with the Torgeson family which was delightful as always and then we had the assistants drive us to our next appointment with Julia Chernushin (They had a car because they had to take it away from some Elders. Still not sure why though.) But it was a BOMB lesson. We had a lesson planned but then we started talking about the Atonement and Stuart and if Julia could help us out with those lessons and we all came out with some revelation! Mine was: Appreciating the Atonement leads to understanding. Just think about that and get back to me. I thought it was good! Riding the bus on the way home though from Eagle rock was interesting. first while we were waiting for the bus there was this guy across the street chasing cars and yelling expletives and such at I don't know who. Second, we were almost to our stop when this drag queen gets on the bus with these hilariouis massive clown glasses, super super short tie dye shorts and a bro tank on. To add to it he got a call on the bus and he was talking to someone about he was about to go dancing and have 'a ball of a time'. It was really hard not to ask to take a picture.
     Friday Cherry cancelled on an early morning appointment. We finished studies and I went over to see Caroline with Elders Twelves and Cook to introduce them to their soon to be newest member of the Armenian Group! They were thrilled to meet her and her of her conversion (which makes it seem so easy to baptized Armenians...). I mean, she was telling us about the callings she fulfilled back in Virginia! So awesome. To add to it, her family that lives here in Glendale aren't members...yet! After getting a ride back to our pad we started weekly planning. Which was probably our most productive yet! Then was the long, long bike back to the top of the area and up some hills. Which was probably good we had to do because the Bazil's had made home made Café Rio!! ohhhhhh man does that sound so good.... a steak burrito enchilada style, black beans, mild sauce. Chips and queso. mmmmmmm I'm hungry for some Café Rio. But it was good! Not quite as top notch but it sufficed :) Unfortunately their friend Melissa never showed up so we didn't get to teach her which was a bummer.. But we did finally get a call back from our investigator William who had appartently been in the hospital for a week because he had a mini stroke from his diabetes and that is why he hadn't been able to meet up or answer or anything. But he called and was very appreciative of all the voice messages we left for him and invited us over for dinner the next day!! So exciting! but anyways Elders Winfield King and I ended up biking all the way back down to the Chavez's for a combined FHE with the Corrigan family which turned out really great! (Cool story. Biking how fast we were going, which was a ridiculous speed, got us there about the same time as a car. imagine that!) We taught them about faith and used this tea bag example which tied into some miracles that Elders Kind and Llewelyn have been able to see on account of them fasting with the Corrigan family to see miracles in missionary work! It was great.
     Saturday was even more cancellations! We had Forest Knipple and Robbie not be able to meet/get back to us about meeting so we had Luke and his fiancée, Evonne, drive us out to have lunch with a bunch of the people who go to Caltech in Pasadena! We went to the same schwarma place we went to last time and it was delicious. Monica (Thomas' friend was there and so was Kirsten's friend Morgan) so it was productive. We had them drop us off at a referrals house that we got for the singles ward and upon not having the person we tried home. And then we called the sisters who lived in the area to give us direction but the next place we were going was a wee too far for our liking. So we caught a bus and on the way ran into one of the strangest people I've met on my mission. It was this black guy and this woman who wasn't exactly the classiest of people. But the guy came up to Elder Whitney and I while Elder Winfield was on the phone and asked us "what are ties for boys??" confused we didn't say anything and then he imitated having a tie in his hand made a gesture that made it seem like a noose and then said "it's for hanging the black man".... okay sir you are drunk and it is 3 in the afternoon! It was more creepy than anything. Then he said "can you boys do this" and then stood in the street a few feet and stared at the sun for a minute or so straight as he continued to talk to us... yeahhhh Pasadena is a little coo coo. Glad I'll be in Glendale my whole mission! So we made our way back to Glendale and prepped for our meeting with the Stake Presidency this pastSunday morning. Then we had our lesson/dinner with William cancel.. he had to go into the hospital again because his blood sugar was in the 600's... so that wasn't cool. So we ended up going to the Berganza's for dinner and to be stuffed full of these delicious burgers that were very mysterious and delicious! I say mysterious because we didn't know what was in it that made it so good. But anyways after dinner we stopped by the hospital again to visit William but he wasn't there again! So we called him and he had just gotten out and home so we went down and visited him and taught him more! He is so funny. He was telling us about how he would when he was younger go to the temple down in santa monica and roll around on the grounds because he loved it there so much! It is interesting to see that the people who are prepared for the gospel have ties to the church before they really even know it.
     Sunday was long. We had a meeting with the stake presidency and they kind of harked on us for the work not going as well as they wanted it to be. especially because our numbers have been struggling as well when we should be leading the zone as an example. so President Morgan said he is going to make sure our Bishop and ward mission leader start to help us get lessons taught and to have 5 members into the temple by the end of the year and 3 more baptisms as well. So we have some major work to do!! But I personally enjoy when people tell me what exactly I need to do and need to put my head down and get to work! But that is just me. Bring on the pressure! William didn't show up to church though unfortunately :( Still haven't heard back from him and we are assuming he is in the hospital again. Be sure to pray for him. But in the singles ward we had 3 investigators come!!! Autumn came which was awesome (she said she had just been so busy with not having anywhere to stay and her dad's health is declining and meeting with us has fallen to the wayside. which is hard but we are used to it). Cherry came and our newest investigator Anthony came with Elisse and Bruno who we taught right after sacrament meeting!! it was awesome! Cherry loved church and Anthony said he'd pray about being baptized. I guess the Lord was throwing us some miracles after having so many cancellations! We had dinner with the Boyacks and they invited one of their old friends over and then we stopped by the Hillas/jones/ravesnwood family with our good friend Stanley who looks like steven tyler! So we caught them at the right time and was able to teach the adults and her two twin girls who are 14/15!! It was awesome!! WE invited them to start taking the lessons and they agreed and it was awesome!! Love seeing miracles!!
Well family friends and loved ones, have a wonderful week. Believe in and expect miracles as you go day to day. I miss you and love you all! Be safe and keep me updated with all that is new and lovely in the world! Next week will be after transfers and may be with new companions so You'll have that to look forward to!
Elder DeBry

Friday, October 18, 2013

Week 43 (10/8-10/14)

Welp! It's official. I'm an old fart in the mission as of this last Thursday. And boy has it been quite the week. Probably one of the most spiritual past two weeks and I can't imagine what lays ahead for me this next year until I come home. A few big things happened this past week so lets jump right into it shall we?

     So like I said in my last email, last Tuesday we were able to go to the temple. And besides feeling absolutely exhausted by the end of last Tuesday, it was just a marvelous day. The new temple video. Still can't get over it. Blew my mind! Anyways! We had our afternoon lessons not show up which we weren't too bummed about so we could actually get things done in a timely manner which actually happened for once. When P-day came to a close we had Stuart (less active coming back to G7) come and pick us up and drive me up to Sunland to go on an exchange with Elders Buchanan and Sio. It was a struggle and hectic trying to plan it all at the last minute but it finally happened and was a great experience. ON the drive up Stuart was telling us how he was going to meet with the Bishop after he dropped me off to figure out what he needed to do to start preparing for a mission! Seriously, I don't know if I'd be more excited for him to go on a mission or baptize someone. Just awesome! anyways we arrived at Sunland (used to be Biker-ville USA. Seriously the 'Hells Angels' originates from Sunland) I was surprised to find Elders Buchanan and Sio still in their p-day clothes even though it was close to 7... long story short they just had a 'busy' day... like we don't all have busy days on p-day! But I kicked their butts into gear and had them call up their Elders quorum president to get some visits going on which was fun. I went with Elder Sio and a Brother Kirkland to visit a few referrals they had received the week previous and we stopped by this guy, Moe Brown, to see if we could start to teach him and his wife (he's a nonmember and she was excommunicated?) Anyways, we found him cooking/grilling outside and so we spoke with him for a good half hour standing in the smoke of his cedar plank cooking (so we went home smelling like cedar, which is better than smelling like missionary). But then we still had some time left after we met back up with Elder Buchanan and the Brother that he went with so we decided to go try by some more less actives which was quite hilarious. I sarcastically suggested trying by this one house that was full blown Halloween décor in the yard and Brother Kirkland agreed and so we all got out (including his daughter) to go try by this house. He knocks on the door and when the lady opens the door he asked "Is Debra there?" and I almost started laughing because we all thought he was just making up a name to try and start a conversation. Turns out he thought he knew who lived there.
     Wednesday we planned to switch it up a bit and do something to get Elders Sio and Buchanan to talk to more people (FYI Elder Sio is from Samoa and Elder Buchanan traveled/moved a lot so not quite sure but they are both relatively new). They didn't have much planned so I basically had to plan for them and I decided we'd go bus contacting for most of the morning and then study during the afternoon! It was awesome. After getting ready we went out and it was lightly drizzling and got on a bus headed to Glendale and was already talking to plenty of Armenians. We then decided to head out to Pasadena so we got on a bus there after I got to talk to this one Armenian lady who had just moved here a month prior and she was super sweet and curious about what we did.. then the bus came and I had to go. Boo that. That bus was kinda dead because we were going against traffic. But we got to this main train station in the middle of Pasadena and decided to ride the train back to downtown LA! Thankfully we didn't have to wait long for the train because it was freezing!! It wasn't raining but just super windy. Saved by the train! But the train was very educational! Rule #1, don't sit down on the train next to the window. You'll most likely be sat next to by someone not wanting to talk. Which happened to me. But oh well! We got off in LA and it started to pour and none of us brought an umbrella... oh how great it is to be a missionary in the rain!! We started heading back up to Sunland after we caught a bus and talked to this guy from Cuba at the next stop who was just going off at us talking about who knows what exactly because first, he was drunk, second, he didn't speak that great of English. Funny story though, in the first minute of talking to him, he decided to take off his shirt and sweatshirt to show us his tattoo of him being in the marines and all of his battle wounds. Including a gun shot that went through his neck and out the base of his skull? something like that. It was nuts! But probably my favorite event from riding the bus (besides the one Spanish lady giving me a hard time because I didn't know Spanish and only knew two languages and her singing to me) was when we were on our final bus and I started speaking with this group of Armenians on the bus who were tickled pink that I spoke their language. I seriously was talking to 7-10 different people seated in the first half of the bus who were all asking me questions and talking about me and giving me walnuts. I loved every single minute of it! We went back and studied and then got called by the Spanish elders to do a pass off lesson with a guy who turned out to be Armenian but had lived here for 30+ years. He was solid and super willing to learn about the gospel! I have no idea why the Spanish elders were teaching him but he was practically golden! When I told him we'd invite him to be baptized he even said that he'd be open because he just wants to have a change! His name is Raz from Iran and told me I spoke Armenian like I'm from Russia... he said that is a good thing that I have an accent so I'll take it! We had Spencer Johnson then take us to exchange back at the Duke house where we all eneded up eating there. Total: 7 missionaries and 3 not. It was quite the party! We finished up dinner and Luke picked us up to go out to Caltech to teach Thomas Kwok's friend, Monica who had been coming to church a few times. She grew up in China so no religious background but she is super willing to listen and act upon the message we teach. That was a busy day!
     Thursday was my official year mark... it was haunting me all day that a year ago I was waking up, going to breakfast at the Original Pancake House and then drove to the MTC. That feels like a different life honestly. But it was a good day. We went to Elder Twelves' district meeting and then went to Taco Bell for lunch. We were supposed to have a Bike safety seminar but it got cancelled so we met up with the Assistants to coordinate efforts in both G2 and G7. Elder Bangerter is such a stud. He started talking about Alma 23:6 and having the members having miracles in them to help us do our work together 'equally yoked'. We had a lesson set up with William that afternoon but he called us and first of all kept apologizing to me personally because when the other Elders went over to teach him while I was on exchanges (oh and came to find out that he had committed himself to read 100 pages of the Book of Mormon by Wednesday's lesson and he did... golden much?) I wasn't there and he thought he had offended me. It was quite precious actually because he said we were like family and how much we meant to him. But then he broke the news that he was going into the hospital that evening to have an appendectomy and wasn't sure when he'd be released. So we promised we'd visit him and teach him at the hospital. So with that falling through, we went out to dinner with the Assistants after our meeting to the Armenian deli we like. Although it was delicious none of us were in the mood to eat as over the course of the meal we learned details of an Elder Page getting hit by a car while riding his bike that late afternoon in Azusa. We knew it wasn't good when we found out he had to be life flighted to the nearby hospital and Sister Becerra was calling and telling the Assistants to have all the missionaries in the mission stop what they were doing to pray for Elder Page. There was nothing we could do so we went on our somber way. To make it worse we had to wait for the bus to come for an hour to delay us visiting William in the Hospital. So when we got there the front desk couldn't find him in the records and after waiting a while until it was almost time to go home they told us that he had either already been released or he had never come in for the procedure... which made us very worried. We still haven't had any calls returned from him and there isn't a way to get into his apartment.. so it was a very somber evening to an already daunting thought that I have been out for a year! to top it off we made a celebratory pizzookie before we went to bed :)
     Friday morning wasn't much better. We received a call/text from Elder Bangerter that morning to notify us that Elder Page had passed away after being in the hospital for a few hours that night. We all felt the sting of his passing like we had known him or like he was a brother. We are all family out here in the mission. We found out more details that night at dinner that I'll disclose with you. Elder Andrew Edward Page was from North Carolina. He had entered the Mexico MTC and had been out in the field for not even a month from the time the accident happened. To give you an idea, he came out in the group Elder Whitney was in. He had three younger sisters. His father had passed aways 3-4 years prior and so he was the only priesthood holder in his home. We were devastated and very mournful of all this throughout the day. I went with the Armenian Elders to eat with a nonmember, Nvart, who fed us some breakfast which livened our spirits a bit but not much. I met back up with Elders Whitney and Winfield to go teach Shawn and Jenna and their family how they can have miracles happen in their missionary efforts. We went back and finished our studies, made another massive chocolate pizzookie and then started to weekly planning for the long week to come. We biked up to dinner with the Duvall family where Sister Duvall read us the article that was already posted on the church news about Elder Page and that is how we found out more. At that point we had our interviews with President rescheduled for November and a special Memorial Service for him Sunday. Hence why It is P-day today and not tomorrow like I expected. We had planned another exchange with Elders Montgomery and DeSpain for that night so Elder Montgomery came into our area with Elder Whitney and I. The Hillas family (dad looks like steven tyler) wasn't home but there was a note on the door that said they were at some café up the street that we tried to find them but no success. Instead, we rode our bikes one direction, planning to visit a former but found out we had the wrong address and then we had to bike all the way in another direction to the Chadsey's to pick up cooking and Elder Winfield's shirt that they had fixed for him. Not wanting to bike, we called Trea Moreno for a ride who gladly did!
     Saturday was a very planned day but nothing went to plan if you know what I mean. After studies we went and had lunch with Elder Montgomery (he was a very successful business man before he came out so he likes to go out to lunch when he can) to In n' out! We got a call mid lunch from Brother Wilms to have one of us go and help him move some furniture. Elder Montgomery went with him while Elder Whitney and I did more planning/scheduling/ and missionary sturff while he was gone the short while. Then it was off to the bike shop to fix Elder Whitney's bike which had been not behaving and needed a tune up. Fortunately we got a hold of Anthony and met up with him for a lesson which was AWESOME. He hadn't been coming to church until he finds a job because he has been embarrassed at church when he has to say he doesn't have work. And Elder Montgomery being the great Elder he is and very business savy, he whopped out a bomb lesson telling Anthony that if he wants a job, or anything for that matter, all he needs to do is keep the commandments. It was that simple. So we went over all the commandments with him and surprisingly he was still struggling with some of them and explained that until he corrected them, he wouldn't be blessed with a job! We left and went off to go visit the referral the Armenians had received from Susanna Adamian (surprise!) to someone she was a nurse for. Turns out that Annie and her husband Joe, were living in the hotel, trying to be kicked out, and were looking for people to help them out with all their temporal needs. Asking for lawyers and doctors, mechanics and women from our church to take care of her. the list went on and finally Elder Montgomery took charge and directed it towards the plan of salvation which she had been explained before by a friend but was still cloudy. We then gave her a blessing and set up a time we could come back to address more of her questions about what we had briefly taught. It was odd enough to see all of her cat liter and dolly's that she had around that she sold on eBay to make an income. We exchanged back with Elder Winfield and then finished our weekly planning. Still not sure what to think of the day because of all the recent events.
     Sunday seemed to have a different atmosphere. We started out early by going to the stake priesthood meeting with Brother Prieto who was driving like a crazy Italian in a sports car.. because he was!  Most members In the family ward had heard about the accident and wanted to know more details. I seemed to be in a short tempered mood because of it but settled as the day went on. Raquel had also dropped us that morning saying she didn't want to continue our lessons because she doesn't want us to think she'll be baptized any time soon. So that didn't happened inbetween congregations like we planned. The theme throughout the day was similar though in classes. Sinking our our ambitions and becoming changed to what God wants us to be. G7 seemed to fly by and was made mention by the bishopric about the accident and that it explained our long faces that day. With not much time following church, we had to make a brief visit to Annie and Joe to explain we'd have to come back on Tuesday to have a lesson where she wanted us to just have a woman come who would help her move around and go to the bathroom and stuff... yeah not sure what to do with them! We want to help but that isn't our calling. I went home and gorged myself with food until we ran out of time. We then studied with Elder Whitney to do his 12 week training and then picked up the Armenian Elders to go to the Memorial service at the Foothill building. Crazy enough, on the way I was driving in the HOV lane and then got out because the few cars were going unusually slow. so imagine this. I'm driving along side these 4ish cars. the front two are going slow (i'm guessing the first one ran out of gas or some engine problem). the 3 and 4 car put on their hazards for some reason. and just as we are passing the 1 and 2 cars. the 2 car slammed hard into the 1 car and both seemed to shoot up into the air as a result of the momentum. But no worries! I'm still alive and safe! :)
     We got to the building and they had put up a display of pictures and momentos of Elder Page as a tribute to him. all 250 of us crammed into the chapel and the meeting was filmed throughout for the Page family. Elder Ostler, Elder Page's companion, spoke first and gave a eulogy of Elder Page. Noting how much love they had in their companionship. reviewing the first moments they met (which I actually witnessed and remember seeing them both back when we picked up Elder Whitney). He spoke of how much of a stud Elder Page was. How different he was because he knew his purpose of him being on the mission was to testify of the plan of salvation because of his father's passing a few years before. He recalled the accident and how he sat by his companion in the Hospital holding his hand through it all. Elder Ostler spoke what Elder Page would have wanted him to say. Telling us that his testimony of the Plan of Salvation would continue to be fulfilled through us as we do our part. Elder Page's favorite hymn was sung. "A poor way faring man of grief", verses 1, 6, and 7. As I sung the 6th verse I couldn't sing any more because of the imagery of the words. 
6. In pris'n I saw him next, condemned
To meet a traitor's doom at morn.
The tide of lying tongues I stemmed,
And honored him 'mid shame and scorn.
My friendship's utmost zeal to try,
He asked if I for him would die.
The flesh was weak; my blood ran chill,
But my free spirit cried, "I will!"
7.Then in a moment to my view
The stranger started from disguise.
The tokens in his hands I knew;
The Savior stood before mine eyes.
He spake, and my poor name he named,
"Of me thou hast not been ashamed.
These deeds shall thy memorial be;
Fear not, thou didst them unto me."

It was powerful and very much in memory of this great young man. Sister Becerra then got up to speak and spoke of Empathy. How she felt as she entered into the ER to see Elder Page looking so perfect and at peace and to see his companion, Elder Ostler sitting by his side holding his hand. Being strong for a moment and then breaking down for a few. She said "I did what I thought his Mother would do." As she described her sitting on the other side of him holding his hand and admiring how handsome Elder Page was. Noting his straight nose. His skin. His eyebrows. "Surely that is what his mother would do" as she would stroke his hair. I've never been so touched by how much love I felt for this man that I never knew. Nor for my Mission President and His wife. President Becerra spoke last. Reading Elder Page's first journal entry as he recounted the day he left home and flew to the Mexico MTC. The way he spoke of the experience was almost prophetic. President gave more details about what had happened that day. President had met with Elder Page a mere 2 hours before to interview him. He recalled the blessing that he and Elder Ostler gave at the hospital of release. Not only that. but how Elder Ostler had stood up to the police and paramedics to demand he give his companion at the scene of the accident. There was much said. Too much to tell but we know that "God loveth his children; nevertheless, we do not know the meaning of all things." We need to learn from this great young man. about the level of commitment we need to have, especially here on our missions.
I love you all very much and am very thankful for all your love and support! I just want you to know I am very safe, very much well and very happy. So no need to worry. But please pray for the Page family at this time. They are in need of all the prayers they can at this time. I hope you all have a wonderful week!
Elder DeBry

Week 42 (9/30-10/8)

SHEEESH! I HIT A YEAR THIS WEEK. How crazy is that? One year ago on the 10th, I was driving down to the MTC. After having a delicious and stressful breakfast with the family. Don't know how so much time has already flown by. Crazy! Also, sorry for the delayed email this week. Today we were able to go to the Temple so our P-day got pushed to today. And also, a heads up, we will be having interviews with President Becerra next Monday so our P-day will again be on Tuesday. Just in case y'all wanted to know!
     But seriously this week was AWESOME. I mean, Zone Leader Counsel/Training, General Conference, AND the Temple this morning?! I felt like it was Christmas I was so excited to wake up at 3 this morning! Spiritual high! Anyways. Many experiences were had this week and much to tell and who better to tell all about it than the missionary of the year (almost) to tell about it!
     Last Monday was typical. Too much to do, busses taking forever to get places and all that jazz. BUT! We did end up visiting this girl whose Dad called us a few weeks ago and said we should stop by and visit her because she was not active. Tender enough he said he didn't want her to be offended and told us not to tell her he sent us. So we ended up traveling to Burbank (out of the mission) to go visit this aghcheek (girl in Armenian). Funny enough while we were walking and probably looking lost with our giant map out, a member from Burbank stopped and gave us a ride and actually knew the family we were going to visit! So we get there and the daughter is there with her two friends from work so what do we do? We teach the gospel of course! It was an awesome situation. The one girl knew we were there to try and get her back to church and apparently her friends had been asking her a bunch of questions that day about the church so we got to teach them both about the Restoration! They seemed super interested. (Surprisingly enough we got later notice this week that they weren't sure they wanted to meet again because it was uncomfortable...uhh...ok?) But the rest of the night unfortunately we were stuck at this blimey bus stop for an hour waiting for a bus and it was almost time for us to be home. Until Khoa came and saved us! Our hero!
     Tuesday was MISSION LEADERSHIP COUNSEL!! We were at first super stoked that we were going to take the two hour ish train ride to get to the building but then the assistants issued an order for us to drive and pick up supplies... lame. So we went. Were blown away but President's mind blowing way of teaching and viewpoint. Felt like we could baptize all of Glendale after we left. And then had a very uneventful night not being able to find anyone home! We did have a visit with the McCubbins family to help them become our missionary tools to find people. And then started to talk home when I thought to call Trea and Natalie for a ride home and sure enough they came, picked us up, gave us a ride and we got to remind them about Conference!
     Wednesday we decided to hit up GCC again and have a lesson with our investigator Enjimar who we are still a little unsure how 'investigator' she is. I don't even think she knows what she really wants. She doesn't really give us much feedback so it is hard to really know what she needs to be taught and after we finish teaching what we had prepared, then she decides to speak up and ask a question about baptism and what we believe about baptism... so that was frustrating! Just get to the point and tell us! The rest of the day we finished studies and had to go problem solve how to fix Elder Whitney's flat tire problem on his bike by going to Target, them not having the right size of tube, and getting one a little big but it seems to have worked out so far! The Frost's took all 7 of us out to dinner and I had this massive burrito called 'El Gordo' which I was forced to finish all of it because I said I could, and I did. Unfortunately no picture was taken.. but that caused us to be late to our lesson with Stuart again but it is a good thing he is a sport about it. We decided to teach him about Repentance by first asking him about all the changes he has seen in himself since he has started to meet with us and getting back into church. The answers he gave seriously made me feel so proud of him and full of love. Some of the things he said include: a clearness of his thoughts and decisions, wanting to smile more, understanding by himself through his studies that we can carry our knowledge we gain in this life into the next. He listed a few more but they all were great evidence that he has experience a change of heart and began to teach how he was repenting and didn't even know it. It was awesome too because my recent convert, K (Chaiwait Seehabat), came to the lesson and shared some experiences about the things he has noticed and got to share some of his experiences dealing with the Word of Wisdom and how he wants to share the gospel more because it brings him joy. To add, Stuart has seriously been contemplating about going on a mission to the point he wanted to go talk to the Bishop about how he could make it happen financially. So cool. Think of how many peoples lives will be changed forever just because he wanted to meet with us.
     Thursday we started early by going to meet with the Sisters serving in Verdugo Hills so Sister Brown (Sister Trainer), could plan with us how to teach Zone Training since she attended Zone Leader Counsel with us. The time arrived and we taught the zone about finding those who already have 'Believing Blood' in them. Meaning those who literally are more of the House of Isreal and have a blood line that allows them to be more receptive of the gospel. It makes so much sense. Then we discussed how we need to not just 'fish', taking anything we catch, but we need to 'hunt', and seek those who are prepared. Somehow after we finished addressing the zone, we got stuck running people around to their prospective appointments and pads. Including building/ putting back together the Verdugo Hills pad after being fumigated for bed bugs.. aiy chinche! That afternoon I went with Elders Twelves and Cook on an exchange to teach some lessons with them. First on the list was good ol' Hambarsoom! Remember him? my first legit investigator who we thought would get baptized the month after I got here in December but has been coming to church ever since? Well he is so ready to be baptized but on account of a few people being so inconsistent with coming to church and falling aways, he wants to be sure he has a strong enough testimony before he takes the pluge. Respectable. But frustrating for us because he is so ready! It'll happen before I leave! I actually also got to go to the Bradley's for dinner as well! It had been what seemed like forever since I had been up there for the typical Thursday night dinner! Our group isn't doing very well. A lot of members are unsettled in their testimonies. Fighting has been typical I guess during Sunday meetings and confrontation is spreading. Elder Twleves told me that the leadership is considering merging with the first ward to have the English members be better examples for our members... that'd be sad to see but could solve problems. Not sure how I feel about it. After not having one come to ESL (again, typical), we stopped by Ragned and her family who I guess haven't been coming to church for about three weeks and still aren't progressing. It is hard to push those Elders to drop them and find others when I know how hard it is to actually have an Armenian FAMILY listen to you teach about the gospel. Tough situation. Funny story though, we walked over to Elizabet and Sona's apartment with Ragned and after knocking a few times, Ragned pounded on the door and tried to twist the door knob and then ran away laughing. Gesh aghcheek. (Crazy girl).
     Friday morning we stopped by the William's apartment for our supposed appointment (wasn't home and wasn't answering). Same guy who told me last Monday that I had a glow about me on the bus and whose sister committed suicide.. but we decided to go try a former investigator who was dropped because her boyfriend told her she couldn't. We caught her just getting home from the vet and got to teach her the restoration again and invited her to be baptized as she knows it is true. On our way back to the pad, I had this lady run up to me while I was waiting for my companions to catch up on their bikes, and she asked for a copy of the Book of Mormon! However none of us had a copy on us (we sometimes just run out! :) ) so we biked home and got a copy for her and her fiancé who we found out was a less active member! It was probably one of the funniest/strangest lessons I've taught. First the guy, Joseph, was telling us to give her a blessing right there on the corner of this busy street and she kept saying 'Yeah!! Bless me!! (pulling up a chair and throwing her arms up in the sky). We then told her we could teach her a lesson about the Book of Mormon and actually started and ended with a prayer, and committed them to come watch conference with us for Sunday! Then was the very long winded weekly planning but we endured to the end...pun. After we had planned to go try some less actives and part member families down on the southern part of our area so we took the bus down to downtown LA. Sunset blvd to be exact! You see some pretty interesting people on the bus, lemme tell ya. And somehow we kept missing the stop and got caught up talking to this black lady who was telling us (more like scolding) that we just needed to have who ever we were visiting the pick us up. not a bad idea. Finally, because we didn't have time to eat, we wound up going to Mexicali and running into Elders Bangerter and Lloyd doing the same thing.
     Saturday WAS GENERAL CONFERENCE! I hope everyone else enjoyed conference as much as I did. Saturday morning we went up to the Bazil's house (we made cinnamon rolls for everyone) to watch the session with their less active friend, Melissa. It was probably one of my favorite sessions but they were all good. We went down to the Central building to watch the afternoon session, and then had dinner with Bishop Lee of the family ward. Then we all went up to the stake center to watch Priesthood session together! It was just an awesome day full of inspirational words! We ran into this one Armenian lady as we were going around visiting people who was super nice. Was Atheist because of her divorce with her husband but found a liking to talking to us so said we could stop by again. So told me that my language skills were still up to par and because I learned Armenian I could learn any other language I wanted, including Chinese. That was a surprise!
     Sunday we got stood up by Monique and Joseph (the couple we taught on the street corner) so we didn't get to have them come to Conference. But it was a marvelous session nonetheless. I'd be telling you more about what I liked and found cool but I've been up since three and I can't remember what this morning was this morning, let alone what talk/speaker I enjoyed listening to. That evening however we stopped by this less active member, Stanley, and found him home and got to sit on his porch for a good while and talk to him. (He's seriously Steven Tyler's twin. Long hair and everything). Funny thing though. He's 60 ish. and has a four year old son who came out in his diper and stunk like a dirty diper. Yikes! Then we visited the Higdon home who we might be moving into their now open spare room. But we'll see!
     And the bonus day of the week, yesterday, was a very, very long but an awesome ending. After studies and making some chili mac (no, not as good as how you make it Mom), we took the bus down to Brother Prieto's office to try and teach some of his co-workers but we missed their lunch break and they were busy so we peaced. Ran into some Hispanic lady who said she was a member who wasn't anymore and when we asked if we could visit she said it was a secret. But I sneakily got her first and last name. teehee.. But seriously it was a very slow day because there was nothing set up and we were just trying by people. on foot. downtown LA. When most were at work or away from home. But the good thing was that we had some great contacts on the busses and had a lot of people to talk to because of the Dodgers game that was happening. We had dinner with Brother Weger whose wife died 6 years ago but is a great guy and had the cutest little maltese named moose who was 8 months old. adorable. Then we got a call from Brother McCubbins to help him with a blessing to Christina Ratcliff's ex-husband, Tim who was sick! So we got to go over and share a spiritual thought before we gave him the blessing. Hopefully now we might have an in with talking to him and teaching his two girls! And maybe if we become buds with him he'll invite us to see him perform his magic act at the Magic Castle which I guess is a pretty big deal! But to top the night off, we stopped by William's house and he was home! It seriously was probably one of the most memorable lessons I've had just because of how prepared this guy is for the gospel. Seriously. I was just waiting for him to ask to be baptized! He has had a pretty rough life being raised in a catholic orphanage and being abused all his life and so now he is very closed off. But he opened up to us and he recognized that he doesn't do that with everyone. We invited him to be baptized on 27 October and he accepted and said he, quite humorously, that "if this is true, I will be one lucky (insert explatives)". He is just awesome.
Well, family friends and loved ones, I hope you have had a marvelous week! Again, apologies for the tardy email. But I hope this updates you until next Tuesday! I love you all so very much and appreciate all you do for me!
Elder DeBry

Friday, October 4, 2013

Week 41 (9/23-9/30)

Just this morning, after planning last night and setting the goal to talk to everyone we possibly can, we ran into two people this morning in particular that I want to share with you. The first wasn't open to accepting a Book of Mormon but after Elder Whitney explaining to him why it was he came on a mission, the man turned to me and said 'Young man you have a light about you that is just shining.' He accepted a card but went on his way after I explained to him that we help people receive that light into their lives. Then the second man I spoke with on a bus was telling me about a recent tragedy of his Sister taking her life and leaving behind her family. I bore testimony of the Plan of Salvation and the peace and healing that comes through Christ. This man also looked into my eyes and said 'I'm not sure if it is the green in your eyes, but there is something in your eyes that makes you different. Why is it that you seem to glow?' I explained to him how we want him to have that same light and peace and we set up an appointment with him for this upcoming Friday

     My bad on sending the last one!! Just been an awesome day and wanted to share it RIGHT NOW!! Unfortunately this mornings events haven't been the summary of this past weeks. To say the least it was a rough-er week. But no mission is meant to be easy!
     Last Monday we had a lesson in the afternoon (which I really don't like doing but you gotta do what you gotta do!) with Raquel who was leaving Wednesday for UCSD! We did all we could think to do and that was to teach what we wanted her to understand, 3Ne11 when Christ first teaches to the Americas! And what was the first thing he taught...Baptism!! It was a great lesson. When Elder Frost kept bugging us he had to close up the institute, we all felt the biggest prompting to invite her to be baptized before she left to school and she said she still wanted to pray about it....UGH! It'll happen, just will take more time. But her and Spencer gave us a ride to Target and we finished up our p-day (which flies by now that we don't have cars). Then we rode up to the Central building to have another lesson with Autumn before FHE! It was also such a great lesson!  We right off the bat invited her to be baptized  but before she could respond we told her why and what she needed to understand. So we taught her the Restoration and she understood it and when we invited her to be baptized she said she felt this overwhelming feeling that she needed to and to say yes but was hesitant because she knew she hadn't learned everything yet. But we explained that understanding would come with time and she accepted the invitation knowing that she needed to act with real intent. After that we went and talked with people at FHE, Thomas about his friends at Caltech and then this guy Jershon came up and started talking to us. Basically wanting to bash and catch us in our words. Asking us questions like "are we all pure" and such that he already had Bible verses ready to flip out. After a while of talking and him just going off on us not telling him our first name, he turned to me and said that I was hiding behind my fake smile (I wasn't even smiling) and that I was the most defiant person he met that day. Then at that point, Elder Winfield who had been keeping relatively cool, spoke up and the best way I can describe what happened, is that video clip of Joseph Smith who was in jail and said to his captures, "silence ye fiends of the infernal pit!" Seriously though, Elder Winfield bore the strongest testimony and stood up for me and told him to be silent and not to speak to us in that way again.. then we proceeded to walk away and go home! It was much more intense than I make it sound. Just trust me on this one!
     Tuesday we went up to GCC and I was under the weather with a cold.. so I was not into talking to people at all. What made it worse was the fact that I had to sleep on a mattress with like a plastic wrap on it that made it sound like it was the loudest thing ever when i'd move at night. So not much sleep and a bad cold. NOt a happy camper!! So we were up there for a while until we had a lesson with another girl, Grace, back at the institute building. Grace is this black girl (African American girl in the words of Elder DeSpain) who talked to Elder Winfield the week before and just wanted to learn more about religions. We had this girl, Allie, come help us out with the lesson and it went great! Probably one of the first lessons that we had taught in unity with each other and knew where we were going with the lesson. Love it! She agreed to keep meeting with us! Then we had a good lesson with the Sinor family! I guess they had been dealing with some family stuff and Zach was preparing for some surgical procedure this next week and hadn't been coming to church. I love that family. No matter how odd their house smells. Thankfully I couldn't smell much with that terrible cold! Then we talked with the Hispanic lady at the bus stop who spoke less English than we did Spanish and we got her information! Finally we made it up to the IHOP to eat dinner with Sister Sowby and Elders King and Llewelyn. Funny thing was that on the way back home, we saw the same lady at the bus stop again!
     Wednesday was BUSY! We had an early morning lesson with this girl Enjimar who was pretty awkward when we taught her. We had this member from G7 come with us and we let Elder Whitney lead the lesson which we gotta give him props but it was a little all over the place. But she said she would meet with us again! Even though she was just wanting to know more about Joseph Smith and Polygamy... but right after that we had a lesson with Cynthia again to teach her about the Restoration. And because she was so sarcastic we had to really make it a chill lesson if that makes sense but she totally understood it and was surprisingly smart because she plays like she isn't! But we invited her to read and pray about the Book of Mormon and she wouldn't accept a copy and later we found out that she was offended that we were implying that all other churches were wrong. I ended up having to call her and explain things a little more and eventually she agreed to meet with us again to give us another chance to explain it. The Crane family fed all 7 of us (Elders Bangerter, Lloyd, King, Llwelyn, Winfield, Whitney and I) lunch and then we went back to GCC to have a lesson cancel on us. We made an office supply run and still aren't sure how we would do a supply run without a car because people get so much stuff in a week! Later that night we had a lesson with Robbie about Patriarchal blessings to give him an overview so he could help us with our lesson with Stuart afterwards. Robbie said because of his recent slip up with the WOW on his birthday that he doesn't feel like he is ready but we know he is making progress and Stuart was totally into getting one so he could find out his lineage. I love reactivation work! It's so satisfying especially to think that both Robbie and Stuart could be going on missions soon/in the future.
     Thursday we went up to have district meeting with Elder Compton and his district up north and it was still miserable being sick. It's funny to see the newer district leaders esteem us Zone Leaders as such knowledgeable and Elder Compton even said he was getting nervous because we were there. I don't know why! I don't even know what I'm doing most of the time when I teach groups of missionaries so we're in the same boat! We had a lesson with Autumn after the meeting and it was awesome. She said she felt better about her being baptized but still wanted to be more confident about her choice which was ironic because that was what we were going to teach her about! Confidence and Faith and tied it into the Plan of Salvation. We invited her to pray about a date for October and hopefully this week we were be able to see how she feels about that. From there on the day went downhill. We had a lesson with Anthony because we hadn't seen him for two weeks or at church. We were planning on talking about commandments but he started going off on some of the things he had been studying and researching online and was asking questions that made it seem like he wasn't a member yet... so we had to go back and teach him the Gospel overview which basically made him roll his eyes because he felt like he already knew it all. But obviously he was struggling with his testimony concerning it. So we decided to meet with him the next day and it wasn't much better. But that night we had a lesson with this other black lady, Lequita who was awesome! We had Brother Prieto come with us and we talked about the Book of Mormon and read it with her. Funny though because after the lesson Brother Prieto was still critical of the fact that I brought of baptism on the first lesson... typical.
     Friday was very long! Studies, lunch, weekly planning and then off to our lesson with Anthony. We taught him the law of learning and invited him to start teaching us the lessons if he felt like he had learned all that he could from us but he was still too prideful and said that he didn't see the point. Especially about going to church each week when he feels the spirit more in the temple doing baptisms. It was so disheartening to see him question such basic doctrine after such a short time of being in the church. It made me think of back to how I could have done better or taught more clearly. We ended the lesson after Anthony was saying he'd just come to the Wilson building to church for sacrament so he wouldn't have to walk so far and said he was embarrassed to tell people in G7 that he didn't have a job or a car... I walked away from that lesson feeling really down on myself and finding Mosiah 28:3 to be very true. To add to that, we stopped by Jolene's house to talk to her and see what was going on with her Sister. She immediately questioned why we were there when she told Brother P that she couldn't see us again. We told her that we just wanted to hear it for ourselves and to give her the large copy of the scriptures. She sounded so sad that she was having to tell us off. She said she was sad that she couldn't learn from us, that she had already made friends in the church and was excited to be baptized on her birthday. It broke our hearts to hear that and then to have her say she couldn't because her sister thinks we are going to take her money.. Anthony and then Jolene. I felt like I had been sucker punched. Two of the other Elders didn't show up for another dinner so we had to go late to the Sheffields to cover for them. Still somber from the long, tiring, day and still being sick, we made our final stop at the Bishop's house to get to know some of the youth that went to seminary. We got to share a message about faith and did the tea bag example and went around talking how we can all strengthen our Faith and I shared about how Mom and Todd are now taking the lessons because I simply invited them too when I wouldn't have thought otherwise if I weren't on a mission. The night did end on a good note though because Bishop Lee drove us home in his 1948 restored Jeep that was a blast to drive into. Especially because I felt like I was sitting on a toolbox in the back with nothing to hold onto and it being an open Jeep. Good times!
     Saturday I felt like it was very unproductive. We decided to go to the FHC and to map some places where we could visit because of our lack of GPS. But after a while of doing that it ended up that I was almost out of money on my metro bus pass tap card and so we had to walk around downtown Glendale for about an hour and a half trying to find a place to put more money on the card. Ridiculous! We then ended up having to rescue Hermanas Minchin and Munoz by driving them up to the stake center for the General Relief Society broadcast and then down to the Berganza's for dinner where we had a massive amount of delicious BBQ. That night we got back on the busses to go visit people and talked to this kid at the bus stop for a long while and just had a very casual conversation that ended up pointing towards the gospel. Awesome how that works. We ended up going to visit this former, Amy who was home and we got to stop by and they said we could stop by again this week to visit. It was already late and we weren't sure we'd be able to catch another bus and as we were walking across the street we saw a bus and tried to go catch it but didn't. But thankfully there was another one that got us home right before we had to be home! Gotta say though, downtown LA and riding the bus even at 9 pm, still sketchy. But I'm alive and it's good experience!
     Sunday we had Gina drive us to church in her beat up Falcon which was hilarious. But it was so good to have her back at church because of her busy schedule now with three jobs. G2 church went without much event and then in G7 we had the area authority, Elder Haynie, come in and speak to us which was AWESOME. Lets just say he taught us about the last parable that Christ teaches us and it isn't in the N.T. PLUS there was the small dude guy from 17 miracles there at church and I didn't realize it was him until after! I wish I could have gotten a picture! After break the fast we had a short lesson with Robbie about what Elder Haynie had taught us. I just love Robbie. Such a great guy. Struggling and beat up from his Horror Nights job but he is good again. We then stopped by the Salazar family after with Brother Salomon and we had a lesson with Claudia the oldest daughter who hadn't been taught in 3 years says Brother Salomon. But it is so good to see members care so much for those families who have stopped coming. Fills your heart! Then we had dinner with the Bazil's again and met Sister Bazil's not active friend, Melissa who we are going to watch conference with this next Saturday!! So excited for Conference. Y'all have no idea. Just something about being a missionary and being able to be an Elder with the Apostles and yeah. It's just cool!
Well that is my week. I love you all very, very much and hope you have a wonderfully splendid week! Enjoy Conference!!
Elder DeBry

Week 40 (9/16-9/23)

Dearest Loved ones!
     Baree Looys!! Well aside from it taking an hour and a half this morning to get from our apartment to the institute to email.... it has been a great week full of new adventure, a new trainee, and new miracles that have been all around!! It seriously has been an awesome week and I've never gotten home so tired from all this no car travel!! Pretty sure if my belt has some more loops, I would have gone down one because of all the exercise we get while biking/walking. Thankfully it hasn't been TOO hot this week. Anyways let's get at my week, shall we?
     Monday was... yet again very frustrating and just nothing got done. Just as our P-day is just about to start, we get a call from two new elders who are opening a new area asking where they will be moving... umm... I guess their apartment fell through the cracks and they never got one. So they were homeless and were forced to just come with us for the day. So we had to wait for what seemed like forever until they made it to our pad and then off we went with Khoa up to GCC to do email and whatnot. Well 2ish rolls around and the office calls and says they found an apartment they could move into and so Elder Winfield and I left the two other Elders at the institute to go back to our pad, grab our car and head to the office to pick up their furnishings for their new apartment, including a new fridge which we had to get elsewhere as well (Elder Winfield had to back up the truck and trailer which he was very proud of but it took seriously 15 minutes to back out of a driveway. Gotta give him props for persistence!). But then back to Glendale to pick up the Elders, back to our pad to load up the rest of their bags and such, then up to Tujunga to unload, move in and deal with the paperwork of the apartment and contracts and whatnot. Not a fan of being the middle man of a deal that can just be made on the phone. But finally we got to head back around 8 o'clock after already having missed a scheduled appointment with our new investigator, Gary. We then biked up to Central to meet Robbie at FHE because he wanted to talk about things. Unfortunately it ended up more talking to other people and Robbie just giving us a ride home so we didn't get to address the things that were going on... but long story short after having a rough weekend and losing hope and whatnot, he had some more answers given to him in the way of friends reaching out to him. Seriously I don't know what it is, but that kid can pray and have some miracle happen anytime to show him the way. Pretty amazing his faith. But boy was it a busy day!
     Tuesday was a little better. Elder King was dropped off at our pad a little before 6 the next morning while the AP's went to Arcadia to drive the departing Elders/Sisters to the airport. So we spent the morning with him. After studies we walked over to Target to get some groceries since we didn't have time the day before. (Which we found Dino-Quaker oatmeal for a dollar. A DOLLAR. Remember those? The oatmeal where you start out with eggs and by the time you heat it up the dinosaurs come out in an assortment of color? That was my breakfast for the week. Couldn't be happier.) Then our day continued with taking the bus up to GCC again (it took an hour and a half waiting for the bus) to meet some Armenian girl that flaked on us..typical. After getting a ride home with Khoa (all six of us, Elders Twelves, Cook, Jewell, Winfield, King and I), we drove to Arcadia to pick up our new trainee!! His name is Elder Bret Whitney. Born in Washington. But claims he isn't from anywhere because his Dad is in the Army and never lived anywhere for too long. He has moved 15 times, was studying math education before his mission at Utah State, his parents live in Beijing, and he is into music! So besides him moving a lot, as of right now, we don't have a ton in common which makes it not quite as fun as it was when Elder DeSpain was our trainee. But Elder Whitney is a good Elder. It doesn't seem like we are training him because he is already a good teacher and has his head on straight. So that is good, right?! The Armenian Elders invited us to finally have dinner with Brad and Nancy, the people we helped move into a few weeks ago who fed us pizza last time. It was them and 9 missionaries I think? But it was awesome. So the rest of the night was rather confusing because it was our first official time that we knew we couldn't take the car. So we spent quite a while trying to figure things our with transportation and finally hoofed it to the Central building to meet the two new Elders in G2 Elder King and his trainee Elder Llewelyn. Both are awesome. Elder King was a Zone leader for a while so I already knew him (He was mtc companions with Elder Bangerter) and he is a cowboy from Farmington Utah and loves to rodeo and actually is pretty good at it. Elder Llewelyn I don't know that well yet but he is hilarious. So nuff said. But we helped them out figure out the area, what members they should go by and basic stuff like that to try and get them started. I'm thankful I don't have to ever open a new area! Gotta love being in Glendale for two years!
     Wednesday was busy. We took the bus up to GCC again (only 20 minutes this time) to go set up the booth! It was awesome just getting Elder Whitney to dive into talking to people. We had the Armenian Elders come with us and I've taken a liking to Elder Cook. I can see us being friends back home. But it was a lot of fun. It was a pretty slow day for some reason. So we headed back home and as we were about to start our studies again we got a call to give someone a blessing in the emergency room. So we biked down to Glendale Memorial Hospital to meet a Sister Perez who was having something wrong with her appendix. So we gave her a blessing as her Armenian nurses were trying to usher us out of her room because they only are supposed to have one visitor at a time... Sorry lady! I'd love to leave my companion but we are attached at the hip, didn't you know? But as we were unlocking our bikes to head home we got stopped by this kid who yells out and asks if we are Mormon. We started talking to him and he started telling us how he used to be into drugs until he got something laced with anther thing which got him really bad anxiety and he wanted to change his life around. Uhhh..... did that just happen? Yuppp. Sure did! so we got his number and still waiting to hear back from him! All because we have a brand new missionary... LOVE IT!! We were supposed to have a lesson with Chaiwat that afternoon but he ended up not being able to until later when we had a dinner appointment.. so we got Kelli to give us a ride to our dinner and we had K go to a lesson with her! Later he texted us and told us how awesome it was to teach and he now understands why we loved being missionaries and were happy all the time! He is awesome. So we had dinner with the Knight family and they weren't very happy because they had made dinner for 7 and only 5 came... this is the problem with having so many companionships in a ward. NO communication! But it turned out alright. we just had to eat a little more until we were about to pop and had to be rolled out the door. We had a lesson with Stuart that night and it is amazing to see his progress! He told us he has realized to really come to know that these things are true he needs to do it full fledged and with all sincerity and purpose of heart to know if it's the right thing. I hope he serves a mission. He'd be so solid. We had to make the long 30 min walk home last night but we ran into this guy from Iran that we started talking to. Apparently he had talked to me before on his doorstep and he didn't want to have to go to any church because it doesn't matter what the 'name' of God/ what church he goes to, because what is important is how Church helps people change into the people that God wants us to become. Which I thought was brilliant and all I could do was bear testimony about that being our purpose as missionaries then we left him to think about that. Up until then I had been struggling to figure out why it was so hard to teach Armenians. I started to figure out just a piece of it. They have always been forced to change. To move. To do things and live a way they didn't want to live. They want to be able to do something because they want to. That is why they cling to the Armenian church so strongly. Because it is all they haven't had to change since 301 A.D. This all makes sense in my head if it doesn't to all y'all...
     Thursday we had to run to the office again to get supplies for some Sisters in our zone who moved into a pad infested with bedbugs... we felt terrible to so we made sure to get them all the things they needed to clean their apartment the following day before it was to be exterminated. So that took up most of our morning and we missed district meeting.. ontop of that we had to then go home and bike back to the church for a lunch that Khoa made. but when we finally got there all the other missionaries had ate it all... sad face.. but there wasn't much we could do and had to bike up to our lesson with this girl Cynthia at GCC. It was probably one of the funnier lessons I've had. She wasn't even quite sure why she was meeting with us and was making sarcastic jokes all the way through but we got to explain our purpose and she said she'd try and make it to church. Then off to our lesson with Raquel! she had told us that after her fast for Yomm Kippur she didn't feel much different than before about what to do. So we started to explain that and related it to the last lesson we had with her. She now doesn't even know if she should tell her Dad all together and that is what her mom and sister said she should do. So we are hoping she'll be baptized before she leaves for school this Wednesday! But we had a lesson on the Atonement and it was pretty bomb. We got her favorite candy and started going around the room asking everyone if they'd like a piece. if they did, I had to do 20 push ups before they could have it. Pretty soon neither of them(raquel or her boyfriend) wanted to have any more candy but I did more push ups for them if they wanted it. Pretty soon I was struggling to do any more push ups and Raquel was soon in tears because she understood what we were trying to teach. The rest was powerful and moving as Spencer explained what the Atonement meant to him and not much needs to be said further. She knows what she needs to do and we hope she makes the right decision. We got a call from Melissa later that afternoon and she was in tears explaining how stressed she was and bad she felt that she wasn't able to meet with us and how she just needs to figure out everything that is going on before she continues. It broke our heart to hear that the time she needs it most is when she doesn't have time. But that is when her friend Alexis (after telling her what happened) told us that we should make her cookies and drop them off to her to brighten her day. Which would work out perfectly because we'd be in Arcadia the next day. That night we stopped by a lady who we met on the bus Wednesday and she let us in to have a lesson! Her name is Jolene and she is aweomse! She lives alone with her dog Abby. She just wants to find the truth and she agreed to have another lesson the following day. Miracles are happening from taking public transportation! After that we had Scott Vance come pick me up and the other Elders went with Russ Peterson to go do some visits of referrals we had received! So Scott and I ended up visiting this referral from the Northridge YSA sisters. it ended up being all the way up in San Fernando almost! Road trip? It felt like I was visiting Kiel up in Sacramento again. And the address we had wasn't even the right address! Lame!
     Friday morning we dropped Elder Winfield off to go with the Sunland Elders to help them clean the Verdugo hills sister's pad while Elder Whitney and I drove the Armenian Elders to Arcadia for the new missionary orientation which was Bomb. All meetings where we get to listen to President are bomb. So after the all day meeting we stopped by Melissa's house to drop off the cookies but unfortunately she was already at work. We also made some for Alexis' family for the meals they had us over for. Finally we got back to Glendale and went over with Elders Twelves and Cook to teach Jolene. It was an awesome first lesson and Elder Whitney got to invite her to be baptized on October 13th and she said:
 "that is my birthday!" "well Jolene do you want to be baptized on your birthday?!" "I'd love to!"
That was our conversation! It was pretty great. After making some mac n cheese with polish sausage, Mike Avanesian from the Group came and gave us all a ride up to the Central building for the 'Epic gamer night' which turned out to be not so epic afterall... but we got some free ice cream!
     Saturday we went up and had to study with the Verdugo Hills sisters while they had an exterminator in their pad. It was quite interesting studying with Sisters and I cried laughing from Elder Winfield making faces while Elder Whitney was roleplaying with the Sisters... classic. But then we had another lesson with Jolene where we went over the restoration again to make sure she understood the apostasy/authority/prophets. She was solid by the end of the lesson and was nervous to come to church but said she would. The afternoon we planned and then had dinner with Elders King and Llewelyn and the Solomon family. It was so funny. The solomons are already a funny couple with Sister Solomon being so worried about everything and Cecil just being totally random. So much laughter was to be had that Elder King ended up spitting his jello into the bowl of mashed potatoes.. The rest of the night was exciting! We started out on the bus and just kept riding because we started talking with some people who came up to us asking questions! it was awesome! We met this one lady who was a doctor but taking the bus so her son could have the car... that's a momma!! But once we got off we had a very long way to go to walk.. we stopped by Forest's to use the restroom and Gina was over and they were just about to have dinner. We haven't seen them for a few months now because of Gina's three jobs... but they were acting strange and didn't even want us to stick around.. so we started walking home and about half way a member stopped us and gave us a ride home.
     Sunday morning we went over and picked Jolene up with Brother Prieto. She loved church and everyone was befriending her! It was awesome. We also found out she'd be coming to the AP's baptism that night to see what she'd be getting into. G7 was awesome yesterday because President and Sister Becerra came and spoke in Sacrament. It'd be too long to summarize President's talk but he spoke about where he came from, his purpose and the man he will be because of his Grandfather joining the church and in effect, 135 of his children, grandchild have all been faithful and strong members in the church with numbers of stake presidents, mission presidents and so forth. it was certainly inspiring. right after church we had a lesson with Autumn who has been coming to church since april but hasn't wanted to meet with missionaries until now. She knows it is true and says she wants to get baptized but she is afraid that by her doing so her parents will be disappointed/won't support her and that when she gets married they won't be able to be there if she goes to the temple.. very legitimate concern. But she is solid in her testimony and it is awesome to teach her. WE had a quick dinner with the Bazil's before going to Ramiro's baptism(I guess he got baptized with his ipod in his pocket) and then had a lesson with Jolene after to talk about her feelings. It was an awesome day. But that night we got a call from Brother Prieto telling us Jolene had called him telling him we couldn't meet anymore. She called her sister and her sister told her we were going to take her money and not to meet with her anymore.. we still don't know what is going on but I hope it turns out alright.
Well, I love you all very much and hope you are having a wonderful, sunshine filled week where ever you may be. Hajo!
Elder DeBry

Friday, September 20, 2013

Week 39 (9/9-9/16)

 Well family and loved ones!! It has finally happened. We have had to park our cars. Turn in our privledge of having keys and in exchange get bus passes, maps, and two working feet to carry us from A to B while talking with everyone we meet and see along the way!! I'm super excited to finally start this adventure!! Sure I'll miss the A/C and having the luxury of a car, but it'll be more of an experience if anything. So today is the first day. And it has already been quite the start to another great week! But lemme tell you about this past weeks adventures because there were many.
     Well last P-day was cleaning day to prepare us for the transfers. and for some reason (probably because we had to do it so much this week) I feel like we had to do something and run to the office or something because we have been so busy. But I can't remember and I didn't write anything down in my planner... bummer. But I remember I made some pudding! that was delicious. But we had quite the run in with a referral we had received and contacted that night. I guess the people/house we went two had been having pranks pulled on them and had actually gotten the police involved because it had gotten pretty serious/harassing. But ironically the guy and his wife had actually met with Missionaries before and he said "they were begging me to accept their message". We had quite the conversation and some would even label it as bashing but he was so FRUSTRATING. Ugh. And his wife totally would have been willing to listen because she wasn't so closed but her husband kept speaking for her. But it was pointless trying to further anything with him so that made Elder Winfield frustrated that we had to wasted precious time that we didn't have a lot of on a P-day. But we did make up for it by having just a pleasant conversation with a guy on the street. Nothing came about but it went from him saying "I don't want the shpeal" to us just being able to talk.
     The next morning, Tuesday, we had a tour/lesson with Nicole and her friend who she brought along, Stephanie! We hadn't heard rom Nicole for about a month or so and she finally found time in her busy summer to meet up and have a tour of the church. It was a great lesson and we got to extend a soft baptismal invitation which they both accepted if they knew it was true. Nicole even asked for a copy of the Book of Mormon after! Solid. But then we went up with Kelvin to GCC for the first time this semester to start the booth! And lemme say the booth is so awesome. It is the greatest finding activity to just pass our surveys and talk to people all the time and actually have people be interested! But just in that first day we got about 13+ numbers and people willing to meet with us and it continued throughout the week. After going back home to finish up our studies we did our office run and then went to the Priestley household for another dinner to meet another one of Alexis' friends, Leticia, and because her parents wanted us over for dinner one last time before she left for school at BYU-I. They fed us a massive, most delicious steak I've ever had that apparently Brother Priestley was known for his cooked meat and I found out why! But what made dinner so great was being able to have the whole family including Leticia, Alexis' Mom and the grandma come and listen to our message which was BOMB. We shared John 10 and showed how even when Christ was having a hard time, he went back to the place he was baptized and "there he abode". Then we went around and talked about how we can do the same more in our lives. It was quite the experience because we finally got to hear from the Mom who has been less active and she felt the spirit from what we shared and got very emotional. It was probably one of my favorite moments to share with a family while I've been out here. So much love for this family! Too bad Melissa wasn't able to come. She has been so busy with work and has had some boyfriend problems. We were hoping to finish the lessons before Alexis had left for school. Oh well! Things happen. So after we left while the spirit was still there we raced off to the Central building to catch the social part of the institute class and met a recent convert and her friend Liz who she had brought for the first time. Hope to start teaching her!
     Wednesday we passed our cleaning check then headed up to GCC again to run the Booth! We brought Elder Cook along (the new Armenian Elder) and had him get some experience actually contacting people. I wonder how nervous I was my first day on campus. But it was great. Hot. Got a little sun burned and another 15+ numbers/people to contact this next week! CHaching!! Later that afternoon we stopped by another referral we received from the Spanish Zone Leaders, Elder Mostert and Blanchard. They sent us to a guy named Gary who most graciously let us in and have a first lesson with him to give him the overview of what we teach! He has had a rough life and even spent some time in prison but he wants to follow the right path and the truth and he likes how he has run into three missionaries and feels like it is a good thing! We actually are meeting with him today so we'll let you know how it goes! Then the night got crazy and we had to do some splits. Elder Winfield went with Khoa to teach Stuart and to go on a home teaching visit with Brother McCubbins  to Christina's ex husband, Tim, who doesn't want their girls to take the lessons. While I went with Daniel and Elder Cook (Elder Cook because we were supposed to have a lesson with those Armenian guys that I met who were drunk and put me on YouTube). So we taught Stephanie and Nicole the Restoration which was kind of slow because Elder Cook is still pretty new. But it turned out well and we even got to extend a baptismal date but they both said they'd have to think/pray about it more to really know. Which is fine by us! After that those Armenian guys weren't home so we stopped by Albert and his family! I hadn't seen them since the last weekend I was with Elder Dicus. It was rough. I haven't taught a full Armenian lesson since the beginning of May about 5 months ago... sheesh. But Elder Cook basically couldn't understand them (bless his heart for trying though) and so I basically took charge and struggled to have a lesson. The girls and Romina weren't really listening but I guess the other Elders have just been focusing on Albert because the girls are more stubborn. But after that lesson I was pretty frustrated with my Armenian or the lack thereof. But I know I can work harder but I feel like I'm starting to lose it only after a few months.
     Thursday we had a great district meeting by Elder DeSpain!! His very first and he rocked it. So proud of our little boy missionary! Growing up so fast! That afternoon (after a delicious taco bell run with the district), we stopped by a members home and shared a message on the Work of Salvation broadcast (trying so hard not to fall asleep in their hot house) and then had to go back up to Tujunga to teach Raquel and follow up on our last lesson. We decided what she needed was a lesson to boost her confidence so we taught her about faith and used Ether 2 and taught what we had learned from President in Zone Leader Cousel which made reference back to Genesis 6 and how Noah also used stones after he was told to not use 'windows'. Look it up. It'll blow your mind. But we also did the tea bag lesson and she really liked that and found how it applied to her. Unfortunately it is Yomm Kippur this weekend and since her family is Jewish they are doing the traditional fast from everything and won't be able to come to church but she said she'd use the time to fast for an answer! That night we met with the Stake Priesthood again and had to give the low down on all the changes in the mission and talk directly to the ward mission leaders and how they need to do their job and tell them what we need them and the wards to start doing. We then ran into the Salazar family who we tried to see earlier but they weren't home.
     Friday was a little all over the place. We had gotten a call Thursday night telling us that we are going to train a new missionary next transfer and that we'd have a meeting the next day. So we did that during the day and had to reschedule our lesson with Gary to go in to the office. Then because the meeting went way over we were late to dinner and were all thrown off. But thankfully we got to meet up with Robbie who was having a pretty rough week and had a lot of questions that were making things harder. So we taught him about facing/coping with adversity and how it's just a small moment in this life if we have the eternal perspective of things. I guess his mom's health is getting bad and the social scene at church has been kind of rough on him and he's been starting to lose hope. On top of that we told him he shouldn't go to Disneyland on Sunday for his birthday. Which he wasn't very willing to do. But we cheered him up and told him he doesn't have it as bad as Job did. He got a kick out of that. And then he taught me how to play a few chords on the ukeleilei (spelling???).
     Saturday was more mellow. Josh blew us off again and it was too big of a hassel to reschedule so we got taco bell with Kelvin instead. Gotta love my Taco Bell. Then we had a way too long of a lesson with Ceasar from G2 who basically asked us questions then answered them himself... all while in a very hot house trying to stay awake. Then was weeking planning and it was super busy trying to get prepared for this whole no car thing. Still feel unprepared but oh well! We had a great dinner with the Berganza family and then went off to teach a referral Vincent who we got from the office. He let us in kind of reluctantly what it felt like and we taught him the overview of what we do and invited him to meet with us and his answer was "do I have to?" I just wanted to say. Yes. Yes you do have to and you have to get baptized as well. But he just said he was too busy and that we could just email him what he needed to know. Then I brought up the example and asked him if he'd rather talk with Christ or get an email from him.. he said an email because he was too busy. Welp. SEe ya Vincent! It was quite funny/sad. And then we got a call from Brother Duke from the High Council saying we had the Stake Presidency meeting the next day so we had to spend the rest of the night collecting info from the missionaries... lame. Then we got transfer calls!! Elder Winfield and I stay the same and will be training again! Hooray for training a new missionary!!
     Sunday was so long. We were fasting with/for Raquel to get her answer and had to leave early from G7 to check in our Zone's cars. But we did find out that Christina had been using some pretty serious drugs (crack and meth) and that is why Tim was trying to get custody. The truth comes out! anyways, we had to wait forever for everyone to bring their car in and have us inspect it. Finally two elders from our zone came in and one of them had sprained their ankle and was on crutches. So while talking to him about it we found out that he did it while playing basketball with a bunch of other missionaries Saturdaynight when they should have been home... so we had to call President and basically the rest of the night was dealing with disobedience and such with these elders and the others in their district. On top of that, we found out some bad news about Robbie. I guess he never came to church and he had been texting one of the ward missionaries and said that he had gotten drunk and just felt like giving up hope on the church... we even got him a pin from Disneyland to celebrate his birthday and tell him how proud of him we were that he didn't go on his birthday.. So after all this finally at around 8:30 we stopped by the Boyack family who had made food for us earlier and we got to eat and enjoy before heading home.
It was a long, long week. I loved every minute of it though. I miss and Love you all. I hope you have a great week!
Elder DeBry