Monday, January 13, 2014

Week 55 (1/4-1/11)

Well today has just been wonderful. I'm a little sleepy, yes. But our ward mission leader, Nate, got permission to take Elder Lloyd and I to the temple this morning and it was absolutely wonderful! Can never get enough of that place. To top it off, for breakfast after we went up to Lucky Boy which has the most delicious breakfast burritos that just hit the spot after being up since3:45. BUT SO WORTH IT! So that just adds to our amazing week jam packed full of fun. All while sharing the Gospel! I'm becoming quite the mulitasker. 
     So last P-day was actually pretty awesome. After the long haul of emailing (I say long haul because it seems to take me forever to write my novel of an email home), we headed to Glendale to meet up with none other than John Logan Dicus! Who was in town for a few days to show his family around town and such before he started school the following Monday. So he and his family invited us and the other armenian elders, as well as some of his recent converts over to the Kozy Korner thai food restaurant for some lunch. It was quite weird to see him again honestly. I mean, I know it has only been about 6 months since I've seen him and I was with him for the first 4 and a half of my mission but it feels like so much longer since I've seen him! And to add to that he had lost some weight and was back to his skinny self. He is such a stud. I love that kid and hope he is doing awesome back down in Provo. And I finally got to meet his family whom I had heard so much about in the first place! it is unusual to finally put a handshake to a face that I've only seen in pictures.But anyways, after a long lunch and catch up with him, we headed back to South Pas to finish some errands and head down to Nate's house to set up our slack line and chill for a bit. Which was pretty nice and like a normal weekend afternoon! So it was a good day. When we wrapped up the day, we ended up having to meet up with the other Elders because there was another ET that was made and Elder Wymer was with Elders Haslam and Johnson.So for some reason he had to come with us for the night which worked out because we couldn't get a member to come with us that night! Our first lesson was with a new investigator we had picked up a few days before, Dora Lee, who was the one that graduated from BYU back in the 70's. So we went through about half of the Restoration lesson before she started bringing up her concerns that she understood what we believed but she was going to stay Catholic because she didn't believe there  was an Apostasy. After that, Elder Lloyd spoke up and threw out a few scriptures that stumped her including giving the gift of the Holy Ghost in Acts 19. We ended the lesson with her still saying she wasn't going to likely change but she'd come to church with us after she gets back in town in a few weeks... fine with us! After her we went down to El Sereno to make our daily visit to Jacqueline and see how she was doing.. she is still struggling but Elder Wymer could relate to her with his parents smoking while he was growing up so that helped. Next, Vicki was sick so we couldn't stop by her but we stopped by Bonnie who finally let us talk to her and answered her door but she wouldn't let us in so we just talked in her alley-way. She wasn't really talking much which made it pretty hard but by the time we were done explaining she started crying. We asked her to offer the closing prayer but she declined mulitiple times and multiple times she said no.. so we finally left her with one and went on our way. 
     Sunday we was the first day that we had our new time for Church at 9! So we had ward council at 7:30 and Church following. The day seemed to go by pretty quickly because I was looking forward to the baptism of Cherry Go that evening. After church we went down to El Sereno to try and visit our potential Craig but instead we ended up talking and teaching his brother Cleo who was pretty open to listen to us! It was a quick lesson though because Nate had invited us over to his house to have a quick dinner (and to celebrate Armenian new years eve) before we went to the baptism. He made some delicious schwarma and hummus and then we were on our way to the baptism which was awesome. I was so excited for Cherry. not only that but while we were waiting for everyone to finish their 'Break the fast meal' I got to meet Lindsay Stirling! Who is kind of a big deal because she makes music and is a member of the church! And she is introducing the Gospel to a few of her friends that she goes on Tour with! Then it was the baptism and it was powerful. Cherry asked me to give a talk on the Gift of the Holy Ghost. Nothing makes a weekend better than someone dressed in white! I really miss Glendale though. Especially those wards in the Central building. Everyone is just so awesome. Even though South Pas is awesome too. Votchinch. After we made our way back to our area and had another lesson with Bonnie and we had Nate come tag along to try and get into her apartment but to no avail. We again taught/reviewed the first lesson to see if she understood but she wasn't too interested in participating so after a short lesson we got a call from Kristy who was having a hard time and needed a lesson to pick her up so we went and talked to her about Prayer. I guess she had been having a hard time praying lately because of how stressed she had been and couldn't find the words sometimes, making her think she wasn't worthy to pray or something like that. So after some reassurance she gave a wonderful prayer. 
     Monday after studies we headed into the office to help out President. Sheesh there is a lot to do! We went over the upcoming meetings that we had this past week including agendas, topics, some concerns that he had and then we dove right into transfers. We first start off by seeing who is leaving and how many new missionaries we will have and I guess we only have about 10 ish coming in which I guess is super easy compared to how many we were having come in during the summer which was about 30+. So we figure out who could train and then started problem solving with Elders that President had heard were having problems, and then any impressions or thoughts we had been having which made things really messy on the board. I relate it to doing a deep clean in your room, it gets REALLY dirty before things seem to get better. With a lunch break thrown in the middle, the day flew by. It was so much fun though surprisingly. Even though we had so much to do, President was in such a playful mood becuase of some things that worked out really well with Transfers. Not only that but he was toying around with the idea of going to the BCS game that was in Pasadena with his son Elijah. Also what was funny was one of the other assistants, Elder Mostert, is a big college football fan and so to give him a hard time, President kept pulling up highlights from espn and such. It was great. President is a hoot! After our long day of transfers Elder Lloyd and I had to stick around to type up the agendas for the meetings and do some online proselyting. Our day came to a close at the office but before we left we had to get on some Elders who were still emailing after 6 and didn't have anything planned so we had a mini planning session with them before we left back to the area. As we were on our way back we got a call from this lady, Deborah, who we had given a call and left a message saying we'd like to meet, and she said that her and her friend would like to meet up with us! She said that she had told her friend about us and that made her super excited for whatever reason and so she gave us her friend's number and we gave her a call and thus began our phone tag with these two older grandmas. The friend, Gloria, was ecstatic and wanted to meet the next day but Deborah couldn't so we had to go back and forth figuring out times until we finally confirmed with Deborah and what I loved was she said "i'll bring some turkey sandwhiches for us all!" Who can pass up a turkey sandwhich? Not I. Anyways we had some people not home and so we decided to stop by Bonnie again and drop her. which worked out because she dropped us as well! And funny enough, after our lesson with Kristy who was again having a rough time. Can't remember what we taught her though...
     Tuesday was another very busy day! We had a super awesome day planned but had a few lessons cancel on us in the afternoon after we had done our studies and such but around 5 President and his son Elijah came out with us to do splits to cover all the other lessons that we had planned for the evening. So I went out with Elijah while Elder Lloyd went with President to teach Julian and Lisa, Vicki and Mark Newport. It was an awesome night! Our first stop after we split was with Hector who has been going through a rough time for some reason lately and has been a bit busier to meet with now that he has a night job working at a restaurant. So we went over and were following up with how everything was going and got into a lesson about the  Character of Christ because of some situation he was in that he was trying to help someone else with not being so selfish. So it was a really powerful and Elijah was a stud! He killed it. Way better missionary at age 16 than I was for the first 6 months of my mission! But after that we met up at the Hilton's house to have a dinner lesson with Jackie. Which was delicious. Since the Brethren have done away with the dinner calendar, I don't think we have had a home cooked meal with a ward member (excluding Nate) so that was super nice! They even made some of the best home made ice cream that I have had. So good. But after we shared a lesson about the Anti-nephi-lehis from the Book of Mormon and related them burying their weapons of war to Jackie's quitting smoking. After that we went on a search to find this referral we had received earlier that day and came to find out that it was the address and phone number of a sushi place... ha ha. Real funny. But when it was 9 we headed back to the south pas building to wait for Elder Lloyd and President and so Elijah and I were just talking and I had him ask me questions about him getting ready to go on a mission but seriously he is so awesome. I'm sure it helps to have your dad be the best mission President. But they didn't show up for about an hour so we had a nice long talk and such and when they finally they came they told us of the very long lesson they had with Mark and his Wife and how he wasn't ready to be baptized because he didn't have a solid belief that Jesus was the Son of God. So we have some work to do! 
     Wednesday we had our extended Mission Leadership Council with our guest speaker Brother Lee Donaldson from the Missionary Department. And can I just say, he was amazing. Seriously. Scriptural genius. Knew Hebrew and Greek so he could read the original texts of scripture. And the whole reason he was coming down was to teach us how to teach this new method using the pamphlets in 20 minutes and the way he showed us was so simple yet sophisticated! He was an expert teacher I'll tell you that much. Not only did he go over the pamphlets including how to pray and read the Book of Mormon with our investigators, but he reviewed Facebook and even showed us a sneak peek at what we will be able to do with our iPads that we will be getting in a few weeks! they are going to be sweet. And I guess we are part of the first 15 missions out of 30 that will be getting them and that is out of over 400 missions across the globe! So we all were super stoked. After the meeting and cleaning up after the leadership, we had to give one Elder a ride down to LA so we figured we'd stop by MexiCali for dinner on the way home :) so delish. nom. We got back to South pas and stopped by Jackie again with Brother Lambourne. Still not much progress and we are getting kind of stumped of what more we can do to help her. Then we stopped by Reynolds place and taught her and Alex a lesson in hopes to help Kristy with her talk she is giving this Sunday but she wasn't there. 
     Thursday was part two of Brother Donaldson's visit to our mission (even though it wasn't a mission tour and was actually the first time ever that the brethren had given a member of the missionary department to visit a mission for a second time. I guess President Becerra is just that awesome!) But most of the day was about the same material, except this time I was standing for the whole meeting to run around a microphone to those people who had comments and such. But it was still packed full of more things that will help us improve. After a full day of fun and microphones, we headed back to the area and headed straight down to El Sereno to meet up with Brother Jensen for a few lessons. first with this girl Kimberly that we met on the other day while visiting her neighbor and she said we could stop by. We were running a little late and as we were walking up we saw her leaving with some other people but thankfully she was kind enough to allow us five minutes to kind of introduce her to the love of the Savior that we share. And she was really rather receptive and set another return appointment! And we found out she is pregnant and super young so she'd be real growth to the ward! next was with Julian and Lisa who were just awesome. We went in and reviewed with them the Gospel of Christ and started to have a good discussion about what would help them come closer to making the step of baptism. Julian brought up the concern that he felt he hadn't received an answer yet and wanted to know more of the procedure and it was a perfect time to invite them to the upcoming baptism of the Colmenares this Sunday. So we are stoked to have them there. Then we had to head back up to the house and meet Brother Ray to go out to finish off the night with a visit to Jackie, Thomas Albano, and then Kristy. So pretty busy night. 
     Friday after studies we had a little bit of our weekly planning session and then called Gloria to confirm our lesson with her and Deborah but she said that Deborah wasn't interested and because she wasn't it made her hesitant to meet with us... that stinker... So that was a bummer. Kimberly also cancelled on us for some errands. But then Nate came out with us later that afternoon to make a visit to Jackie and figure out what to do with her and we came to the conclusion with talking to her that it felt right that if she could go the next 10 days without smoking then she could be baptized so we'll see where that goes.. but then we had a weird tradeoff and we were going to get Nate's family dinner when we ran into Brother Beaumont and so Nate left us with him and so Brother Beaumont came out with us to Kristy's for a bit to help her with what she had so far with her talk. then he dropped us off and Brother Caffall came out with us and he was hilarious. When we were at Vicki's (seriously we were running late and had 12 min) he decided to tell a joke in spanish (the only one he knows) and it was hilarious because they didn't get it but it had Elder Lloyd and I just busting out laughing. So we briefly introduced the Book of Mormon and got to start teaching her oldest daughter and then had to go to Julian and Lisas a little bit late. We taught them the Word of Wisdom and after Julian said the closing prayer we were pretty bold with them about being an eternal family and them not being able to unless they are baptized. Julian thinks that since he is old it may not be worth changing his ways so late in the game but I think he just needs to better understand repentance. But that is just my impression of it. They are such an awesome couple though. Lisa so wants to be baptized but is just waiting for Julian to make the decision. 
     Well that about sums up my week. I love you all very much. I would write a little more but quite frankly I'm exhausted from this morning's adventure at3:45 am. So I'm a lil' bit sleepy! I hope you have a wonderful week and I look forward to hearing from you next p-day. Which by the way won't be untilMonday because we have to do transfers on Saturday so you WON'T HEAR FROM ME UNTIL MONDAY. Then I'll be able to tell you about all the changes and whatnot.


Elder DeBry

Week 54 (12/28-1/4)

 Happy New Year everyone!! And a happier ARMENIAN CHRISTMAS!!!! Sheesh this year has gone by way too fast. Can't believe it! It sure has been the best year of my life though I'll tell you that much. And this past week wasn't any different! Never a dull moment when you are called to the work! Especially here in South pas/El Sereno...
     Last p-day after studies we met up with Nate and Hector at the park near our pad and played tennis and broke in my new slack line! It was pretty legit and I'm getting pretty decent at it believe it or not! I've been hooked and can't wait to get back on it today. But anyways. The rest of the day was pretty relax. After the day ended we headed down on foot to teach Jacqueline, whom we have been trying to meet with daily to help her keep focused on quitting smoking and she is getting better but still struggling with it unfortunately. After our lesson with her we headed over to Vicki's to have a lesson with her which has been pretty awesome lately! We introduced the Book of Mormon to her which went okay. If I remember correctly the girls were being a little disruptive and it was hard to try and focus. Our game plan from now on is to focus on Vicki and if the girls want to listen it is a plus! Funny story though. After that lesson we were our and about trying by some other people in the area, one being our old investigator Mireya, who we still haven't had a second lesson with. So they weren't home and we were walking back to our car when this guy came up to us who was absolutely plastered drunk and was being all buddy-buddy with us and such saying "OHHH YOU'RE THE MORMONS!! Come on, try and convince me! CONVINCE ME!!" it was pretty great as he was holding a brown paper bag and staggering around. Then the kicker was as we were heading towards our car he takes out a pen that he was holding and pretends to smoke it and then held it out to me and asked "want a smoke?" and then threw back his head and laughed and pointed towards  Elder Lloyd and said "man this guy doesn't have a sense of humor!" It was pretty great. I was worried he was going to jump in the car with us though because he wanted us to go take him to get some food. "Ohhh man let's go to TACO BELL!! The thing is, I only do the invitations, you'll have to pay though." is what he said. It was a good laugh to end the night! 
     Sunday was awesome. We had a later coorelation at the church because ward council was cancelled because most people were out of town including the Bishop. Seriously 5 min before Church started there were maybe 10 people in the chapel. Kind of funny. But shortly after sacrament started I headed out with President to the Armenian group! They invited us to speak with President Morgan who would be also giving a talk in sacrament meeting. So that was pretty awesome getting to ride over to Glendale with President. Just had some one-on-one time which is pretty special when you have 262  missionaries! He is the man. That is all I can say about what we talked about. But we got to the group and there were quite a few new people in sacrament! Some investigators, some visitors who were there to hear President Morgan speak and encourage the Group to become a BRANCH! But I'll get to that in a minute. So they had President Becerra speak first, then me briefly and then after Elder Cook's musical number, President Morgan got up and started to speak to the group and how his vision is to see it turn into a BRANCH. He only spoke for probably 5 minutes and then said "I want to close this meeting early by blessing this group as your stake president that you will become a branch this upcoming year." And then he said the closing prayer and in said prayer he stated his authority, the keys he holds as stake president and blessed the group to become a branch... it was POWERFUL. I've never seen such a bold Stake President before! It was awesome. As we were socializing with the members afer everyone was excited that I was coming back but I had to tell them it'd be a bit longer before I came back.. but remember how last zone conference President Morgan spoke and announced he was going to invite his dentist to be the branch president or the new armenian branch? Well he was there in that sacrament meeting and so we got to meet him and he is a stud! He has agreed to learn more about the church from the missionaries and so hopefully he'll be able to catch the vision and the spirit of conversion! Things are happening! It was funny though, President is so awesome. I'm pretty sure he went around to all the members and talked with them including Ashot's nonmember wife and was asking her why she hasn't been baptized and she said that maybe she was waiting for the group to be a branch! So that was awesome. On our way back we talked about the Armenian group and some other stuff I'll have to tell you about after transfers. But we headed back to South Pas where President met with Hector to meet him and hear his story. Affer meeting with him for about an hour, he came out and told us that he was determined to petition the first presidency to allow Hector to be baptized before his parole is over! So that got us super stoked. He needs it more than ever. I'll tell you more about that later. But yeah. The rest of the afternoon was pretty slow. Not many were home. We spoke with Linda's daughter, Jasmine, and she told us they weren't interested anymore and to stop trying by. On our way back we walked to the bus stop and started talking to this other drunk guy who fell into a big tree pot that didn't have a tree in it and was stuck for a while. It was one of those things where you probably needed to be there. The rest of the night was trying to finish our weekly planning which wasn't too successful either... It was a long day! 
     Monday we didn't have to meet with President because he had to meet with other Elders who wanted to have interviews with him so we had a full day in the area! Which was pretty weird to feel like a regular misisonary again! But we decided to mix it up a bit and ride the train down to Union station in downtown LA with all the commuters to work and try and talk to some people. So we did just that for the first few hours of the morning! We were just on a roll! I don't think we let one person past us without talking with them or inviting them to do something. We were talking to so many people that it took just as long to get to the train as we were on it. But we rode down to the station, walked around for a bit and I marveled at the size of it! It was pretty cool and I had never been there let alone a train station. But it was great. Even in the train station, people come up to us and ask for some direction to get so such and such platform... we rode back all the way up to Pasadena and did some internet proselyting before heading back to south pas to finish our studies which were extrememly hard to stay focused and awake for after an early morning and lunch. We finished up and headed down to meet with Jacqueline again to help her out. She will do good for a few days but then something stressful will happen and she'll have a cigarette or two. Dumb cigarettes. Don't smoke people. We brought this new guy who moved into the ward, Dennis, who was baptized a little over a year ago and is a STUD. He seriously was awesome. Golden for sure. After our lesson with him and Jacqueline we went over to Vicki and her family. It was only her that night however which was nice and what was awesome was Dennis has gone through a rough divorce just like Vicki and they were really able to relate and he had some great comments. One of them being "God gives His toughest battles to the strongest soldiers". I really liked that. Because it is so true. We went over the Book of Mormon again and reviewed its purpose and Vicki really understands it pretty well which surprised us! It was a great lesson. After, dennis had to go but we stopped by Mireya's again and met her husband Antonio who is a hard working truck driver who is a cowboy at heart! So him and Elder Lloyd really connected well. Seriously we were talking about cowboy hats and accessories that he likes to look at at a store called Broken Arrow for about 30 minutes on his porch. But he said we could stop by this upcoming week! 
     Tuesday was pretty interesting. After a regular morning of studies, we decided in n' out sounded good for lunch but we wanted to take the bus over. bad move. we had forgotten that it was new years eve and it was running on the holiday schedule... so total time of getting over there was about an hour becuase we would wait, and then walk to the next stop, wait, and then go to the next stop. Not to mention the crowd who all wanted in n' out as well. So great was our frustration with the transportation that day that by the time we got back to our pad after lunch we decided to just drive up to pasadena to do internet proselyting. The rest of the day was pretty slow because of the holiday. Not much was going on and we had to go through and check a Elders and Sisters profile on facebook to see if they were missionary appropriate. We had a lesson with Jacqueline again which we were hoping to have at Nate's house and then just have her stay for the new Years eve party we were going to have but she said she had already made plans to play dominos with one of her friends who lives in the same boarding care... so we had a quick lesson with her and then headed out to Nate's to help him set up for people coming over. It was quite the spread of a chocolate fountain, 7 layer dip and all the snacks one would have a super bowl party! People started showing up including Hector and Kristy and Alex. We were hoping to have some of our other investigators Like Jana and Rosemary but to no avail... it was fun though we played some games and got to know each other better and then before 9 we all went outside and lit these massive paper lanters and then let them go at 9 to celebrate! So a happy new year to you all!! 
     Wednesday morning we got ready and out the door we went to walk to the train to pasadena to see the Rose Parade again! The train was packed and so many people were headed to the parade. We got to walk down Colorado Blvd again before the parade started and we got our seats and our donuts and bottle of water and sat back and enjoyed! it was a beautiful day and sunny enough for us all to get a little... TANNER :) The floats were awesome again. But I would say it is one of those parades you can probably go to a few times then just watch them on TV. AFter the parade we made our way back to south pas and to Garfield park to celebrate Sister Whittemore's birthday! It was pretty fun. We got to meet some more ward members and talk with Nate and get freeee food and cake. Always a plus. Then we actually headed back up to Pasadena to wake up a little bit and do some internet proselyting before we went home and did some studies before out lesson with Jackie that afternoon. She had smoked that morning and was feeling really remorseful but not willing to give up the fight. She just needs to get out of that place where she is tempted all the time. Other than that.. the day was pretty slow. 
     Thursday morning we decided after personal study that we'd head up to Sunland to visit Elder Compton's district meeting which we were both pretty impressed with. After the meeting we had planned to go get Elder Lloyd's bike from his old pad but the other Elders who live there now are borrowing his rear wheel while one of theirs is getting replaced... so we went to taco bell instead. WE headed into the office to do the high counselor report which is still rather confusing and then internet proselyting which we had to wait around for while the computers were being used by other missionaries. But it was good I'm starting to reconnect with some people that I've taught back in Glendale and it seems to be going pretty well so far. We headed back to south pas and tried by one of our investigators who never gets back to us when we met one of her neighbors who was this little korean woman who said she knew all she needed to know about he Bible and we had a nice conversation with her teaching her about the scriptures from the Bible she didn't know about which really left her stumped. It may be a little mean but with people that stubborn they can take it, right? We had a busy night though with Brother Oka who was awesome to go out with on exchanges. Our first lesson was with Vicki.. however Vicki was sick but two of the girls, Valarie and Chrystal, agreed to have a quick lesson which went pretty well and they even prayed for us at the end!! It was funny though, while we were waiting for someone to come talk to us that spoke english the grandma, Lupe, was just trying to talk to us in Spanish.. after that lesson we met with Jackie again and had Nate bring over some mints for her to have to take away some of the urge to smoke which I guess helps. But she was doing well that day and hadn't smoked thankfully and we could see a difference in her that she hadn't. Then we had a lesson with Julian and Lisa which was really productive. Julian still hadn't read so we addressed why it was so important that he read even though he was busy, and it was great that we had Brother Oka there who is usually really busy to help us out. But we ended early so they could start reading as a couple and we set a return appt for the next day. And then finally our last lesson fell through but we tried by a former and she let us in. Her name is Dora Lee and she attended BYU back in the 70's but wasn't a member and enjoyed being around the church members! So we had a good conversation with her and ended up teaching her about what we do as missionaries and we plan to see her again tonight. So it was a productive day! 
     Friday was awesome. After some really good studies I had in Alma 22 we went and did some interent prose to come to find out our 12 oclock appt cancelled via email unfortunately. But we made up for it by teaching some lessons online and getting some referrals to get in touch with!! So it was pretty awesome and we were on a roll. So we headed back to the pad after grabbing a quick lunch (which ended up not being so quick becuase this guy called us over to him in this Burger King and started talking to us about his beliefs and then one thing led to another and he was telling us these creepy stories that he had with dark stuff and things he had seen and then he told us "I mean I have done a lot of drugs in my life -Heroine, meth, coke- but these really did happen" and at that point we gracefully ended the conversation and left. Still creeped me out). Then we finally got back to our pad to do some WEEKLY PLANNING which was actually really productive I think because we were short on time. After a few hours of planning we had a lesson with Jackie again who had only had two puffs of a cigarette between lessons which we were proud of her for but told her that we would have to push her baptism back to the end of the month.. after that lesson and our disappointment with having to push her date back again we went and had one of the most powerful lessons with Jullian and Lisa! They had finally read together and we went over there questions which were awesome and then were able to teach them about the Plan of Salvation using the new method of teaching it which was BOMB. They were listening intently and understood they could live with their families again so when we had Lisa say the closing prayer in her prayer she asked if by living the Gospel of Jesus Christ and how to do so, if she could live with her immediate family forever in the Celestial kingdom. The spirit was so strong and in the words of Elder Lloyd his butcher's knife back home couldn't have cut through it. It was unreal and she said she felt her answer that she could. I love that. AFter that lesson we went and had a lesson with Hector that really made me appreciate the atonement more and the fact that I have been baptized. Hector was telling us that he had had some flash backs of his past that were in a sense distracting him and making him want to be baptized that much more so he could be cleansed. he is so awesome. The rest of the night was pretty slow though. We went out with Nate but we were bailed on again by this lady Bonnie who we met and told us her husband had passed away the week before Christmas. When we walked past her apartment we could see her in her kitchen looking at a picture of what looked like her family with some alcoholic beverage on the table next to her. If only people knew the power of this Gospel in their lives. I am very grateful for the knowledge I have. 

Well family and friends that is all the time I have for today. I love you all very much and hope you had a safe New Years week and will enjoy this Gospel we have in our lives! Talk to you next week! 

Elder DeBry

Week 53 (12/21-12/28)

 A Merry late Christmas to everyone!!! This will be my last letter for the year of 2013. Next week is a new year... the final year of the mission. I better make it a good one! This past week was a blast. Kind of slow with not having many people in town to help us out with lessons, but overall it was pretty awesome. 
     Last Saturday after the Aranda baptism and emailing, Dad's friend had set up a photoshoot for me to take some pictures as a picture for him. So we did that during the afternoon which was pretty fun. She was a little goofy and I felt weird doing it as a missionary but it was whatever. Before the end of the day we went over to Nate's house for some chinese take out and got to meet Annika's parents whose father is giant. Seriously. Probably 6'6" and as broad as a doorway. No joke. Pretty intimidating. But anyways... After p-day ended we had a lesson with Vicki. Unfortunately her daughters weren't there again but we had a great lesson about the Restoration and we were able to really get to know her a bit better. After the lesson we were talking about her Christmas plans and she mentioned that she wouldn't be able to have a tree because of her financial situation. I'm pretty sure Nate and I had the same idea as we left and were walking back to our car that we needed to go to the other Elders pad down by jack in the box and get from them the Christmas tree that Nate had given to Elder Garner and I a few weeks earlier. So we went and packed it in the car. Nate felt like we needed to get some Christmas ornaments to dress it up so we went by the 99 cent store to see if they had any but alas they didn't have any ones that didn't look like they were bought from the 99 cent store. So we just took it back to Vicki's apartment and started caroling to her until she opened the door and helped her set it all up and fix all the lights. It was the first miracle of Christmas! She was overjoyed and it felt really awesome to make that family's Christmas just that much more festive and fun. Our next stop was to visit a man named Leonard who had stopped Elder Lloyd and i the day before and asked that we start teaching him and help him clean up his life... so we stopped by with Nate and it was probably one of the most amusing lessons I've ever been in. This guy about a month or two ago got out of jail, he was definitely not all there from a previous life of drugs and other illicit dealings. So we go to a picnic table outside the building he had a room in. And before the lesson even really started this lady walked by and said "he leonard, did you see that people tried to burn the tree right over there? That's crazy.." Which was quite hilarious to us all because most of the people in that boarding care are actually crazy.. but anyways this lesson consisted of us having to put leonard on a 10 min timer because of how much talking he was doing, him telling us how his high school police officer bet his pension that he would spend life in prison, and his closing prayer which included giving thanks for 'the ant to the bird. the bird to the elephant and the elephant to the angel'... it was quite a lesson. 
     Sunday was amazing as well. We had the confirmation of the Aranda children. I was able to participate in those ordinances as well as confirm Billy, the middle child. It never ceases to amaze me how much power there is behind the ordinances of salvation. Such a cool feeling and blessing to be a part of. After the sacrament however Elder Lloyd and I had to run off to our pad to pick up our car and drive to Glendale for the baptism of Linda Ravenswood. If you remember, Linda was the last family that I was able to invite to be baptized when I was in Glendale and she was the one who thanked me for doing so, saying no one had ever asked if she would be a part of our faith. There were two baptisms going on. Elders Llewelyn and Aterburn were also having the baptism of one of their investigators. It was a beautiful service. Stanley, Linda's inactive husband, even attended with all three of their Children. A few days before I had messaged a girl on Facebook, Carly, that I taught before in Glendale and invited her to come to the service and she even came to experience it! We were talking to her after the service and she said she had felt the spirit really strong and felt like being baptized was the right thing to do but she wanted to learn more about it first... AWESOME. Also, Stan came up to me after the service ended and said " I don't know how you Elders did it. Six months ago I never would have thought that this would happen. It is a miracle. I don't know how you did it!" God knew it would happen Stan! So after all that fun stuff we went back to south pas and enjoyed some lunch followed by walking around to all of our appointments! It was great being able to not use the car and actually talk to people. We made our way down to El Sereno after not having many home or want to talk to us and ran into Linda in her front yard and ended up talking to her about how she wants her daughter to meet with us and learn more about christ even though she is super catholic. After we got away from her we got a call from President telling us we needed to go have a talk with some Elders in Arcadia who weren't getting along and see if we could help. So we had to head back and head out to there pad where we ended up talking to them for the rest of the night about their concerns and issues that needed to be resolved. All of which was rooted back to disobedience and that leading to no work being done in the area, which was wearing on both of the Elders and was creating tension. But I think we figured it out and at least helped them make it until the end of the transfer..
     Monday we didn't have to meet with President afterall because of the Holiday. So we had a usual morning and made our way into the office to do some internet proselyting. One of the Elders who was there playing basketball ended up having an allergic reaction to who knows what and then breaking out into hives that were causing his face to swell up and making it hard for him to breath for a while. We gave him a blessing and waited to see if we needed to take him to the hospital but he seemed to clear up and was feeling better by the time we left. We headed back to south pas and headed out on foot again to talk to more people so we could teach more people. We made friends with this super awesome bus driver who was telling us how we needed more people like us in the world and such. Cool guy. We were walking down to El Sereno when we met a guy named Craig who was also pretty interested or more willing to listen so we set up a return appointment a few days later. Our next lesson was set with Vicki. We had one of the daughters there, Chrystal, so we decided to review the things we had already taught Vicki and at the end we invited them both to be baptized on the 19 of January which they accepted and seemed to be excited for. We headed out and met with Jacqueline again to see how she was doing and follow up on how her smoking was and how she felt about giving it up on the 25th. We went over the plan of salvation with her in about 6 minutes which was super impressive and then we had to head out and have nate drop us off at Julian and Lisa's so he could go back to his family. We were following up with how their reading and praying had been. Lisa had some great questions about the reading but Julian hadn't been reading... so we asked him about his prayers and he told us of his experience the other day as he was saying a prayer and he could not think of the name of our church or even the word 'Mormon'. So he said he kept trying to think of it to ask if it was true and give thanks but couldn't. So we shared the Joseph Smith expereience with him about his tongue being bound and told him that the adversary had bound Julians tongue as well. So we had him pray right then to ask the same question. After he did he said "well that was quite a different response'. We then invited them to be baptized on the 12 of january which we know they can do. Lisa knows it is true. She is just waiting for Julian to receive his answer which will come. They are so awesome and funny. Gotta love old couples! 
     Tuesday morning we had a conference calls with the zone leaders to discuss the thursday training on internet proselyting. Afterwhich we got word that one of the companionships that were on an errand for the office in the mission truck had gotten in an accident and had been rear ended which totaled the truck... so after we had lunch and did some internet pros we had to pick the elders up from their pad and drive them to west covina to get checked up by a doctor for insurance purposes. the traffic was nuts and it took forever to get out there. When we got there it was amusing to see these two 18, 19 year olds figure out how to fill out a medical history and insurance forms. One of which didn't know what insurance to use so he had to have me call his mom and ask. Which I did and had to unfortunately break the news to her that her son had been in a car accident. Even though they were both fine and just getting checked out, it doesn't sound good to find out from someone that their son/daughter had totaled a car.. but she was nice and I didn't freak her out too much hopefully. When they were finally done being checked out, and being perscribed motrin, we headed back and dropped them off back in their area. Then we headed out to the Walton home for our interesting Christmas eve dinner. we had some roast beef and mashed potatoes, rolls, fried oysters with cream cheese and for desert we had egg nog with ice cream which was actually pretty good, just a billion calories. But it was a pretty good, memorable Christmas eve. After dinner we decided to make some goodie bags from the candy we had stocked at our pad and went around trying to find people home who would appreciate some christmas cheer, mostly our investigators. But we weren't out for very long. We called it a night becuase Elder lloyd was feeling pretty sick and feverish. 
     Wednesday was Christmas! Elder Lloyd and I woke up and opened our Christmas. Funny enough, I didn't have much to open. Mom's package was sent to the wrong address and was delivered to the mission office Tuesday afternoon after most people had left. Our mission keeps track of who gets packages and who doesn't so they can use some of the budget and some stakes pitched in some gifts for those Elders whose families maybe weren't supporting them or didn't have the funds for a Christmas. And I was one of those Elders who received a big bag of toiletries, gift cards and other missionary essentials! I thought it was funny and it made it a good morning :) I did receive a package from Dad and the Williams family whom I'm very greatful for so thank you all! We finished rather quickly and did some morning studies before we headed over to the Philips home to have some Christmas breakfast and call home. They had some gift for each of us including some cereal and Club Penguin t-shirts. Nate gave me a few more that included some Armenian grammar book and hat since he has found a new passion of learning Armenian. It was awesome. Love that man and family. After all that I called home which was really nice to hear from those that I did. For all those whom I didn't get to speak with, I'm sorry. President made it clear to only call immediate family with a limit of 30-40 min and I was going to respect that. But it was a very good Christmas :) we left and took the El sereno elders with to the train station so we could head up to the family history center... which we found was locked. We found a carls jr. open (there isn't much open on Christmas day I found out) and got some lunch. As we were walking back down to the train station Elder Haslam and I were stopped by some woman in a car and asked what we were doing. As I was about to explain our purpose she drove off but only because a car honked. She then drove downt eh street a ways and stopped and got out of the car.. she came up to us and told us that she was a inactive member but going to a family party and wanted us to come. So we had Elders Haslam and Johnson go becuase Elder Lloyd and I had plans to go see Jacqueline. So they left and we headed down to have a lesson with her. She had gone all day without smoking and seemed motivated enough to make it over this addiction from smoking. it was pretty inspiring. After that the rest of the night was pretty slow. We had planned to go and carol with the el sereno elders but they were still at that dinner. so we had to make due with trying by more people. None of which were home. 
     Thursday was quite busy. After personal studies we headed out to catch two different zone meetings to ensure each zone was instructed well on the usage of Facebook. We first went to Glendora who weren't able to bring up the powerpoint we instructed them to use... which wasn't very prepared and kind of on the spot. so we are having them do it again this week! yay! After theirs we were hoping the la verne stake would still being going.. but we showed up and they were finishing up the slide show after only an hour (it is supposed to go for two). So once we showed up they tried to keep things going by roleplaying.. which was better than nothing I guess but we're also going to have them do it again! We headed back and stopped by Sonic which took forever and then made it back to south pas to meet with Nate and Jana! the lady who cut mine and Elder Lloyd's hair and it was super amazing! We met with her at a jamba juice by where she worked and taught her a little about the restoration of the gospel and picked her up as a new investigator! She is very open and willing to listen. Nate later told us that she had gone through a rough life and needed the gospel from what she told him while he was getting his hair cut. Later that evening we had a lesson with Julian and Lisa, again with Nate and it was awesome. They are so solid. He is still waiting for a sign of an answer and he won't get one especially since he isn't reading. But we taught them about Church and invited them to come but they already have family plans and won't be able to make it... blast. but we committed them to come next week and they said they would. our next stop was vicki's again for another bad lesson... we had two of the daughters there again and it was just all over the place and defintely not 20 minutes which I think is our problem. so we headed out frustrated. Don't like having bad lessons! But after we got home I had finally received the package Mom sent for Christmas and I had a late night continuation of Christmas :) thank you for all the love that was sent! I enjoyed it all very much! 
     Friday was a pain. We were sooooo excited to study when we got a call 15 minutes into our personal study from President, telling us we needed to go to Walnut in Hacienda heights to figure out some more companionship issues... which turned out to be a big waste of time. Things were blown out of proportion, an elder said he just wanted to throw in the towel all because he didn't like the companionship and was himself being disobedient... so that took up about 4 hours of our day including driving time. Sheesh some people's children! I just don't get it! Anyways... We ended up heading back to the office to see if we needed to do some emergency transfers and work on cleaning up our facebook profiles some more. Which takes FOREVER. When we finally made it back to our area we had our main lesson not show up and reschedule for tonight. But we had Brother walton out with us so we went and made some visits to some less actives in the convalescent home who requested some blessings. We also had another follow up with Jackie and she told us that her best friend who lived there told her that day that he was moving out and it caused her to panic and have two cigarettes... but we aren't giving up hope and she is so repentant and wants to quit. Please keep her in your prayers. Our last lesson of the night was with hector who is just such a stud. We went over some questions he had in the scriptures and then told him more about the singles ward which he is thinking of attending so he could be introduced to some more youth in the church so he can find a good wife who wants to serve a mission. he needs someone to help him  better his life even more. 
     This morning so far we were able to go to the park and play tennis and use my new slackline that Santa brought for Christmas which was awesome :) 

But that is about my week! I love you all very much and Hope you have a wonderful and safe new years! You'll have to let me know of your resolutions so I can keep you accountable to your goals! :)

Elder DeBry

Week 52 (12/14-12/21)

 This past week has been wonderful. Today has just been spectacular. We had the baptism of Nick, Billy and Juliet Aranda this morning and it was a beautiful service. To add to that, we get to call home on Wednesday! How exciting! Just a heads up, I only get 30 min to immediate family. We will have a member of our ward send out a text or something when we figure out a time that we can call. So think of some important things you want to tell me and I'll share some experiences with you all and it will be a Merry Christmas! But let me tell you more about our week. Which was awesome!
    Saturdays are now our Preparation day meaning I now have weekends again! Kind of...So after emailing last Saturday we decided to go down to China town and get some free MexiCali which was delicious as ever. They were filming some kind of commercial there so if you see some white shirts and ties show up on a mexicali commercial, you know it is us! Also on our way down there, we sat by this guy on the train who was from the Church of Scientology. He was telling us about how he RAN ACROSS AMERICA. Seriously. Coast to coast in 4 Months, 20 days and 11 Hours or something like that.. he averaged 52 miles/day for the first month and then 45 the rest of the trip... No idea how someone could do that but pretty dang cool! So after we headed back to South Pasadena we went over to the Lewandowski home to teach Jesse, Alex's boyfriend. But unfortunately he wasn't there so we ended up just teaching Hector who was there and role played with them including Alex, how we could teach Jesse the next time we had a lesson. So that was pretty cool! And they gave us some good feedback as to how to teach better using the pamphlets that we now use. We later got a call from Jacqueline telling us that she was sick and wouldn't be able to meet up afterall. But since we were out with Brother Caffall we went out and visited some other people who ended up not being home either.. but then Brother Caffall wished this one family a merry christmas in a booming voice in the midst of the ghetto and started a conversation with this guy who ended up inviting us in after talking to him for a while on the sidewalk! We went in and started teaching this family of three: Bobby, Brenda and Jordan who is the son. It was awesome! We all piled into this small humble home and Elder Lloyd and I had to share the most uncomfortable chair ever made which made for an interesting lesson. But they were very open and accepted a return appointment and a soft invitation to baptism. SO COOL! After the lesson we got a call from Jacqueline again asking if we were going to start our fast with her to stop smoking and so we ended up going over and praying with her to overcome this addiction. Please keep her in your prayers. She has been smoking since she was 10 and needs all the help she can get! 
     Sunday was great as well! We had coordination which was small because people are starting to go out of town for the holidays. We also had for the first time the sisters from the Alhambra ward come. Then we had ward council and church started thereafter. We had Hector, Jacqueline and Jesse all there at church! And we even had some non members come with some of their friends which was awesome to see and a first since I have been here in South Pas. But it was a good service. Had a good lesson for those nonmembers to hear about the strength of youth. After church we ended up walking home after getting some goodies from Bess Castudio ( more boxes of twinkies and donuts). We had some people to visit around the neighborhood so we walked up the street to find this potential family home and cleaning their house. But they declined our help with cleaning so we ended up talking to the Mom outside and played with her 4 year old and his toys. She invited us to come by again for dinner so hopefully that happens soon. We tried by one more lady who I had met on the street a while back and had requested a Christmas message. She was home but had just gotten out of the shower and was headed to work. She explained how she was trying to pick up shifts for those people who had families and wanted to help them be with their families more since she was single. Pretty cool! Then we headed back and scarfed on the food we had at home. Always seem to eat too much on days we fast. #missionaryproblems. After our early dinner we headed up to Pasadena to meet Jacqueline for her Addiction Recovery Program which we had told her about the day previous and agreed to attend with her. She was a bit late and when we all walked in we came to find out that missionaries weren't allowed to attend the meetings so we ended up leaving. But before we decided to leave we overheard Jacqueline talking and introducing herself, explaining how she was trying to overcome smoking. The group leader asked when the last time she lit up was and she said right after church that day.. it about broke our hearts to hear that and then we left. Realizing why they don't let us stay. We went back down to El Sereno to visit some referrals we had yet to contact. One was a house where the nephew told us the uncle needed a message, wasn't interested and seemed would turn into an argument while we were there in their backyard. We tried by Robert Souquet again and taught him another lesson. Focusing more on the Book of Mormon this time. I've never seen someone so depressed it just seemed to suck the spirit right out of the room some of the comments he was making and wouldn't seem to accept that the Gospel could help and give him hope and reason to live... by that time it was time for us to go and snuck past his massive german shepard named Anubis who acts like he is going to literally eat us in one bite. 
     Monday after studies (which were scarce this week.. sad face. Invitation: take advantage of scripture study! Now that we are so busy in the office some mornings it is no fun not being able to study.) we went and did internet proselyting and then headed into the office to plan the upcoming new missionary orientation. Time with President seems to fly by with all the things he seems to unload on us in a good way. He tells us of emergency transfers we need to call out, other problems in the mission we need to know about and recent conference calls he had with Salt Lake on more ways we can improve our teaching. Time just flies by. Then all of a sudden we aren't sure we'll have time make our 5 oclock appointment as we are still finalizing transfers, inputing phone information and learning how to do things in the office which seems to be so much it can't possibly fit in one persons brain. Around 6 we left the office to head straight to Glendale to attend the Armenian group Christmas party! Which was so fun. I miss the group so very much and it was incredible to see that most of the party was full of nonmembers! Elders Twelves, Cook and Tyler have been doing a great job of getting the ball rolling on this new Armenian soon to be BRANCH. They have a baptism this upcoming week and I'm super excited for her. Her name is Rita and I got to meet her at the party and she is golden and can't wait to be baptized. The party included xorovats (babecue) and hummus, lavash and lentil. No tolma though. But it was great. got to see some of my old investigators who attended and meet plenty of new people and FAMILIES! Oh man I was so excited to see Caroline and her family. If you remember, I found Caroline while I was in G2 and now she is attending the group with her two kids and husband who goes out and does missionary work with the Elders! So stoked for the Group. We got to take some pictures with Santa and then we were off to head back home after a fun night. That night I had to call out my first emergency transfer.. boy was that interesting!
     Tuesday  was the new missionary orientation which Elder Lloyd and I had to teach a good chunk of it with only that morning of preparation to go off of. President and Sister Becerra addressed us for the first part of the meeting and following lunch the assistants ran the show with instruction on Finding from the spanish assistants and then Elder Lloyd and I taught how to teach using this new method with the Pamphlets. We seemed to do pretty well when we were just planning and role playing that morning but when we got up infront of the big group of new missionaries and trainers things just kinda went down the toob! I don't feel like we taught it well at all... but there is always next time. Thankfully the zones were giving further instruction about the new teaching method on Thursday so if we confused anyone the zone leaders could help out. Phewf. But it was a long day again. It is really eye opening to be on the other side of giving instruction. I think I've already mentioned that but it is so true! When you are being taught you feel like everything is so awesome and planned. But when you are giving it and organizing it, it is kind of all over the place and nothing seems to go as planned! Funny how that happens. After the orientation and scheduling interviews for President and the new missionaries, we headed back to South Pas to meet with Jacqueline. So told us about how her meeting went and told us of her realization that smoking was a sin! I don't know how we didn't cover it but just another evidence that we aren't perfect! Then we were off to the rest of our lessons which were packed in, one right after the other. We taught Bobby and Brenda again and went over the Book of Mormon and committed them to read it as well to a baptismal date of 19 January and they accepted. They seem to really understand and feel the spirit as we teach. I love teaching that family. next we were off to teach Julian and Lisa and see how their progress was! Lisa had been reading but Julian had been busy with doctors appointments and not feeling well so he wasn't able to. But we got to talk to them more about their prayers and praying about being baptized and at the end, Lisa offered one of the best prayers I've heard on my mission. Praying for specifically whether she should be baptized or not and if the book was true.. all without us even telling her to pray for those things. And finally we went over to teach Vicki. We were hoping to teach her and her 4 daughters but they weren't home but taught her and her Mother instead which was awesome. Super short and just taught about the importance of the Gospel in the family but she and the grandmother felt the spirit and were in tears as she prayed to feel that more in her life. She, we found out, had recently left her abusive husband after 25 ish years of being married. I'd say the lord has truly lead us to those families who really need this message. And last lesson of the night was with Peyton's mom, Laura who was surprisingly open! Peyton wasn't there but Laura invited us in and we shared a message about what made us different, getting to explain the apostasy and left her with a bit of a cliffhanger so we could make it home on time and set a return appointment. Busy, busy night. 
     Wednesday morning we had to go into the office before studies to set up a conference call with the zone leaders to discuss zone meeting the following day, christmas calls and other announcements. Elders Blanchard and Mostert weren't there which was weird but we later found out that Elder Blanchard had slipped in the shower that morning and hit his ear on the counter and it basically split in half so he had to go get it sown back on.. kind of funny just how it happened. But after the call President had to leave for interviews and we stayed in the office to finalize the transferboard cards and make it look all nice which took forever. After doing internet and stopping by the post office to mail some sturff (It was Elder Lloyd's first time ever mailing something at the post office and he was struggling.. it was funny to watch) Kristy gave us a call and asked for a blessing so we stopped by and talked to her about how she is potentially going to close the custody battle with her kids because it has been 2 years and nothing has happened. So that was the reason behind asking for the blessing. We met up with Brother Wermuth at the Church to wait for Bobby, Brenda and Jordan to give them a tour of the Church but they ended up calling and telling us that Jordan was sick and they wouldn't be able to make it.. but at least they called. So we then headed to Jacquelines and taught another lesson to her, again following up with how she had been doing and we went over some things that she could replace with the habit she had of smoking such as exercising. Funny story, so Jackie lives in this half way home kind of place for people just out of a mental institution and jail, as we were walking up Brother Wermuth was startled by a lady in the shadows and jumped a few feet and yelped. It had me and Elder Lloyd dying laughing. Our last lesson was with Hector who was telling us about the few times he had had in the past week of meeting people and sharing the gospel with them and inviting them to meet with us and come to church! two of whom were girls he had met up at PCC campus while at a counselors office.. he is so solid! 
     Thursday we again had to go into the office early to inform a group of elders that they would need to come to the office in the afternoon after their zone training. President had received a donation enough to provide new suits for elders who weren't able to afford one and was in need, so after we went to zone meeting in hacienda heights we drove a few elders back to the office to wait for the elders and then went off to get them new suits. Which was pretty cool to be a part of. One elder I knew was in need of white shirts and just thought he was only driving others to get suits but when I told him he was getting one too as well as some white shirts he got pretty emotional with gratitude. It was a long rainy day but we felt the spirit in the store as Elders were able to get new clothes who needed them. We dropped them off at the office after and had to deal with some other missionaries who were having to go home for medical reasons and had to figure out where to put their companions for the remaining month. Our first lesson of the evening was with Julian and Lisa. We went and read with them the first 12 verses of 1 Nephi 1 which describes Christ giving Lehi a book and telling him to read it to feel the spirit. Lisa was sharp and picked up why we read that and said that we were doing the same thing. She also told us that they had talked about getting baptized and it comes down to Julian getting a stronger more "clearer" answer which we explained would come. We then met up with Brother Ericksen and went to teach Vicki and her whole family this time. And I have to say I don't know if it was because the two younger daughters were all over the place or if it was because we had yet to have dinner because of time, but it was just a really off lesson. One that we didn't feel good about and just got stuck. We got another return appointment but I could see the disappointment in Vicki's face that it wasn't as powerful of a lesson as the last one was. So after we went to a taco truck and we felt better about how it went. That, and buying a tub of ice cream at the store to eat at home.
     Friday was weekly planning, internet, lunch/dinner with Nate at Chipotle and being super late to meeting with brother goodwin because of traffic. But it worked out. We went to teach Jacqueline, talked more about her smoking and brother goodwin I guess had a bunch of experience with helping people quit so he was a big help. Also we had some guy approach us on our way there and ask if we could come teach him and asked some pretty far out questions about what we believe including "I heard y'all get married naked... Not sayin' it weird or nothin'.. I think it'd be tight bein' all nekked!"... some peoples children.. Then we  met up with Brother gonzales to finish up the night who is a super cool guy and was an assistant in his mission in utah so he had some good stories to tell us. But we had a great lesson with Hector again that flowed super well and talked about service and more of sharing what we believe with his family. We stopped by Peyton and she was hiding from us.. and then we dropped Robert Souquet and told him to call us! 

So that is about our week. it has been super busy and rewarding. the lord is blessing us and our efforts. I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and look forward to hearing from you on Wednesday! 

Elder DeBry

Week 51 (12/9-12/14)

Well I just realized that this week I will have officially been in the field a year... Never thought I would be where I am only a year later. Strange! But this past week has been... a little over my head but I have gained such a witness of the Lord qualifying whom He calls. Elder Lloyd and I have seen some amazing things this past week even though we have spent a lot of time in the office. Without further ado, I'll tell y'all about it! 
     So last monday wasn't much of a P-day because of the big move from El Sereno back to the South Pasadena pad.. then I went into the office with Elders Lloyd and Bangerter to drop Elder Bangerter and all his luggage off. I guess the Monday before you leave you spend the day with President in interviews and fun activities with him. So we dropped him off to do that and load up the trailer of luggage to prepare for us taking them all out to the airport the next morning. While we were at the office President informed us of some other disobedience that had been noticed by a bishop in a ward and had gotten back to President. So he had us go meet up with those Elders to straighten things out. Not only did they not have a very good explanation for doing maginc tricks for recent converts and investigators instead of lessons, but their apartment was a mess. Meaning they were spending too much time there during the week instead of doing work! So after that we headed back to Glendale to pick up the rest of Elder Lloyd's stuff from him pad. I miss Glendale. Anyways. We got all settled in just in time for Brother Mouri to come pick us up for what I thought was his wife making dinner for us.. but they took us out to eat instead which is cool too. Dottie Mouri is not a member and so we were trying to engage in a gospel related conversation with her and it was going well but then all of a sudden she just tells us to "just drop it.." Long awkward pause after that... "So Brother Mouri any big plans for the holidays??"... yeah later came to find out she hates the church because her daughter was married in the Temple and she wasn't allowed to be there. We then headed over to the Lewandowski home to have a FHE with Hector, Kristy and Alex which actually went really well! They seemed to really take a liking to Elder Lloyd which always makes things easier! But unfortunately it ran a little late because of how good our scriptural discussion was and so we finally got to Nate's house to do a mini planning, correlation, run down of South Pas operations for Elders Lloyd and Johnson (Haslam's new companion). 
     Tuesday was busy busy busy! And very stressful to me because I'm new to this whole assistant thing.. so we had to get up early (5:45) and head out to Arcadia to pick up the truck and go to Presidents house to  have breakfast with all the departing missionaries that we were dropping off at the airport. It was bitter sweet to see them all go and had a very nostalgic feel of being at the airport almost a year later. So we dropped them all off and then had to run over to arrivals to pick up the big group of missionaries that were fresh from the MTC! Crazy to see them all come down the same escalators... we divided them up and then headed back to the office where we had some lunch and then started the brief instruction with the trainees and then the trainers who came in a little later. No planning. Just winged it. And all the time when I was being instructed in those meetings I felt like they were all planned and well organized! But man was it stressful... especially when I felt inadequate to be doing the training when I hadn't had that much experience myself! All was well though. We then had to make a few adjustments to the assignments of trainers to trainees after getting to meet them briefly and then we made the announcements!  It was a good experience overall though. Just getting to see the other side of things and really having my eyes opened to how everything works, how some missionaries are and such. Pretty cool. We were at the office for what seemed forever though... Not sure which day was which because we just seemed to be finalizing transfers, learning how to do certain reports and all that fun office stuff.. but finally we were off to our area again. All this time I was pretty stressed on how we would be able to upkeep the work when we were spending so much time in the office.. but Elder Lloyd reassured me that the Lord blessed us for the time we were in the office and just would lead us to those who would help us lead the mission in example. Sure enough! We met up with Nate to try by the people we had planned and even had Nate take us to some of those people whom he had planned to visit.. including a visit to Carole to but they weren't answering the door. We had a lesson with Jacqueline to see how she was doing and follow up with all the commitments that she may have been struggling with... we brought up the Word of Wisdom and smoking and drinking coffee and she said that she had been slipping up on coffee and she was still smoking... so that really made us worry. She recognized that she couldn't be baptized if she was still doing those things and said that we could postpone the baptism. But we assured her that if she stopped and really showed commitment before her baptism that she had changed then we could proceed as planned. We were still worried though. After we made our way deeper in El Sereno to make a visit to Julian and Liza. A media referral we had gotten a week previous. We knocked and they came to the door and invited us in (unusual and exciting) and we went right into how to begin teaching and teaching them about the Restoration using our new method of teaching. First off, they had started off telling us that they had many children and grandchildren who were Mormon in Utah and they had had missionaries before.. but as we taught them the Spirit was very strong as Elder Lloyd and I taught one of the best lessons I've taught. They were asking great questions that just led right into our next point and they really understood it all. Julian towards the end had the question of "how can I feel peaceful like how you are describing?" that is when we invited him to pray to God as if he were in the room and ask him that question and any others that he had about our lesson. He offered one of the most heartfelt prayers. We sat in silence how we had explained we would and then had them describe to us what they felt. We testified and invited them to be baptized and they said they would want to pray about it first. We left that lesson and we were all blown away about how awesome the lesson went and how we all felt the spirit that strongly. Nate even told us it was one of the best lessons he had ever been in. Felt pretty good to hear that! 
     Wednesday was another busy day in the office. After personal study we headed to the office to set up a conference call with all the zone leaders and President to discuss the upcoming mission christmas party and other matters of business such as any questions people had on the new method of teaching (20 min using pamphlets) and cool experiences that people had. Following the call President went over with us the outline to the Christmas party including his teaching segment to have us give input as well as role play how it would go. Such a humble man to have us give input even though his teaching skills are far superior than ours. After we did that for a while President had to go to a lunch and we got assigned to pick up his son from school... which he wasn't aware of so we ended up waiting around at the high school for about an hour before President received a call that his son had just walked home. back to the office to finish up the agenda and found out that I would be 'MC-ing' the talent show portion of the christmas party... Elder Lloyd and I desperately tried to find some tangarine and baby blue tuxedos to do it but to no avail... We finally got back to our pad later that evening to make a quick dinner and then head out to meet up at the Lewandowski home again to have a lesson with Jesse. Came to find out he had to leave early so we stuck around with them and role played for our next lesson with him which will be today! We are finding out that this new method of teaching is leaving the members unsure how to participate in teaching so we have to give them more prep. Fine by us! But anyways, we left and went and tried by an investigator who Elder Van Duren and Garner had picked up while they were together but ended up walking in the neighborhood to talk to this guy who had a family of 6 and invited us over to his house Friday night, another group of younger people putting up Christmas lights who said they'd love to hear a Christmas message but in spanish, and then we got into teach Robert Soquet! Which I didn't think would happen because he answered the door asking if we could come back in a month or two.. but he let us in. We taught for another 30 mintues and by the end he was sobbing about what we had taught and told him how much we wanted to see him feel the spirit.. he again tried to tell us he didn't want us to come over but after the spirit touching him he agreed to have us come back the next day to discuss more. Miracles! Love 'em! 
     Thursday we didn't have district meeting because of the Christmas party on Friday. So we weekly planned instead. Which was such a relief. I think I've really learned the importance of planning. It is now to the point if I don't have a plan then I don't feel comfortable and just feel lost! Afterwards we headed back up to the stake center to do internet proselyting and I think we are getting the hang of things because we got a few more names to get in contact with and even taught a lesson! Love being productive. It took a little longer though so we were late getting to Nate's for a delicious sushi dinner and then headed out to go teach and do splits because of the 5 lessons we had planned in a two and a half hour period. We all taught Jacqueline together to start off. She had still been smoking about 2-3 cigarettes a day and wasn't sure she would be able to do it since she had started smoking when she was about 10 she said. We taught her more about fasting and told her we wanted to fast with her this Sunday to help her not have that addiction anymore. She agreed and has the desire to quit and she understands that every time she smokes she is pushing back her baptism. I finally asked her for her pack of cigarettes and she resentfully gave me her two packs except for one individual cigarette that she did not want to give up.. but somehow she gave it up and was still unsure how she'd overcome the addiction she had. So please keep her in your prayers. We went and met up with Brother Heap for elder Lloyd to go with him while Nate and I tried by some people we had previously contacted. First one, wasn't home. Second one, was going through a family crisis but didn't say we couldn't come back. Then we went to Mark's house to have a lesson. He is so close. He is still not consistent with his prayers and reading but at the end when we had him pray he felt the spirit but he is looking for more of a sign than just a still small voice. He even described previous times when he felt an overwhelming sensation of peace and comfort but still wanted more... just.. just... YOU'RE THERE MARK!! Still working towards the 12th though. Met back up. brother Heap bought me a lengua taco. mmm lengua. 
     Friday was the MISSION CHRISTMAS PARTY!! Woohoo! Boy was it a long day though. We started off the first two hours by being instructed by Elder Plewe (an office elder) and then by President Becerra who taught the mission the new way of teaching. It is weird to think for me that we used to teach such long lessons. This new way totally makes things so much easier! They all split off into zones and I went and observed the Armenian Elders who were still missing me and wanting me to come back. hangeestana yeretsner. Kveradarnam. We all regrouped and then went into the cultural hall for our christmas feast which was delicious! I wish I could have enjoyed it more but I had to eat quickly to then start the big talent show! It was soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo long... too long and we were very behind schedule. There were magic shows, skits, songs, stand up missionary comedy, carrot jokes, polynesian dances, poi balls, yoyos and rubik's cubes. And in the midst of all this we had to stop mid way to take our annual mission picture which took 45 minutes itself trying to coordinate 270 missionaries.. sheesh. But it was awesome and I'm glad I was a part of it. We finished up back in the chapel for more reverent talents including piano pieces, christmas hymns and solos. it was quite special. After we finished it there were many presents to divide out to each zone and then we were left to clean up and make sure everyone had a ride home which took proportionally long. We ended up driving two of the chinese sisters home to their pad in San Gabriel and then headed off to try by the guy with a family of 6 we had met. turned out that his wife actually lived there but she was just as friendly and willing to have us come over this upcoming week. We have really just come into contact with some good people lately. We met another family who knew the Arandas and said we could come by and they were excited for Billy to be baptized. I thought I also lost my favorite pencil.. but Elder Lloyd miraculously found it! 

And that was my week. We have already had a great morning of playing some tennis with our ward mission leader Nate and will probably go to China town to go christmas shopping for y'all! I hope you have a wonderful and safe week where ever this email finds you. 

Elder DeBry

Week 50 (12/2-12/9)

Welp. I think it is safe to say that this past week. No, this past transfer has been the wildest ride I've had thus far in my mission. With that said, let me just give a summary. Elder Van Duren got transferred home, I was put in a threesome with Elders Haslam and Garner covering the entire ward (which was BUSY BUSY BUSY). Lastly, President Becerra has called me to be one of his Assistants. I'll include more below but that just about sums it up! 
     Monday was a good one. After emailing and such we decided to go down to china town as a zone which I hadn't done in a good while. I knew that Elders Haslam and Garner had some pretty cool stuff from there that I wanted to get. We went down there via train. And since we were all starving I said we could go to mexicali since it was within walking distance! And oh boy oh boy did it hit the spot. Miss that Vampiro with an egg so much. NOM! After we ate we started walking around. I realized I didn't bring any cash with me so I didn't end up getting anything but I wanted to get out of there in a hurry because I wasn't feeling the greatest. But it was a good last activity with the zone before the next transfer. We headed back on the train and we had been there a little long so by the time we went to the 99 cent store (Elder Garner wanted to buy cheap fruits and vegatables to go on a juicing cleanse diet for the next three days..) we had to rush to our lesson with the Colmeneres' family. I love that family. It is nuts with all 7 kids around the house but it is hilarious. One of their boys Joshua never wears clothes and he is about 5. His mom makes him put on pants when we come but only at church have I seen the little rugrat with a shirt on. We followed up with the Gospel of Jesus Christ lesson and they seemed to remember it pretty well. We even had the Dad Marcos sit in on the lesson which was nice because he brought a little more order to the lesson. We then had Brother Figeroa come and meet us at our pad to go out for exchanges. We stopped by a potential Carlos who wasn't home unfortunately. Then we decided to head back to some less actives on Lowell street where we met a man, Miguel, who was on the ward list but we didn't know who he was. So he peeked through the window at first and was shocked to see us. He then opened the door and basically said "How did you find me?" After talking with him it was apparent he hadn't been to church since he was a teen and that now he had a daughter with his girlfriend. Wasn't too interested but his expression was pretty priceless. 
     Tuesday was a little different. After some morning studies I got a call from President Becerra asking me if I would drive Elder Van Duren to the office so he could interview him again and that he wanted to talk to me as well. So Elder Garner and I had to go meet up with Elders Haslam and Van Duren in Pasadena where they were and then we headed into the office just the two of us. Both of us confused as to why we were going in and why I specifically had to drive him in. So we got to the new mission office and waited for President to talk to Elder Van Duren. I was then pulled asided by one of the office missionaries and handed the flight plans for Elder Van Duren that he would fly out the next day. Sure enough Elder Van Duren came out disappointed in himself that he because of some dumb mistakes was being sent home. President then pulled me aside and asked me how I felt Elder Haslam would feel if he had to stay another transfer in South pasadena (having served there his entire mission thus far) and I explained that with the success that we had been having I felt it was deepening his conversion but President expressed his concern with him being in the same place for too long. So leaving that conversation I thought that Elder Haslam would be transferred to another area for sure. Not only that, but Nate had also spoken with Elder Oldroyd (mission presidency) and had given me a tip that it was an obvious decision who would be transferred. So I was honestly kind of bummed. I was hoping I'd get sent back to Armenian work with the new announcement of a Branch coming soon to the Group. After that whole ordeal we headed back and met back up with the other elders and helped the process of packing up Elder Van Duren to leave the following morning. We had to dip early and head to our lesson with the Arandas with Nathan which turned out to be frustrating. We had only planned about 30 min to teach so we could then go Caroling with the youth but we show up and the kids weren't even there and had just barely left to go run some errands! It was dumb. So we ended up teaching the less active mother who had some very interesting thoughts on our church teachings and we took it as an opportunity to teach her some truth. Finally when we were about to go the kids showed up and we had to express our disappointment that we had to go but Billy and Nick came with us to go caroling afterall. Which was a blast by the way. Nate and I had worked out a pretty good duet of 'I'm dreaming of a white christmas' by the end of the night. It was quite a show! But after about an hour Elder haslam nate and I went to teach Peyton who wasn't feeling very well and had expressed some doubts about her baptismal date on the 22. She explained to Nate that she just wanted to plant more seeds in other churches to make sure she is finding the right one. But she wasn't sure how she would recognize her answer. We left her with some scriptures and set a return appointment. 
     Wednesday was very long it seemed like. We had to take Elder Van Duren into the office to help him with his luggage and stuff before they drove him off to the airport. Following which we went on a hunt for this doctors office that we finally found and Elder Garner had to get an xray of his recently healed broken wrist to ensure it healed correctly. Then we went up to the stake center to see what Facebook (Elder Haslam started teaching Elder Garner's girlfriend, Andi) was up to and then rushed down to the Church building for Jacqueline's baptismal interview which had to be done by President Becerra. We were all nervous because of some things that we weren't sure if she'd have to wait to be baptized. But she passed!! Oh we were so relieved and overjoyed to hear that she could be baptized! I think she was even more relieved than we were. We taught her a lesson after and went over some other questions she had from her reading. Love her. Just feel so much love for all these people we are teaching. We headed to subway for the $2 dollar sub deal (steal!!) and then we had to split up with having so many appointments that we couldn't alone. So Elder Haslam went with Brother Lowe from the ward and we headed to the Colmenares again. This time we went and taught them some of the commandments and went on our way to meet up again with Elder Haslam to teach a Katrina Johnson and her nonmember husband. They allowed us to come in and we got to know them a bit and found out that he just had zero religious background growing up in Hawaii. So we began to teach him the message of the Restoration and it was incredible to see his wife's face just full of the spirit as we discussed with her husband the things that she had come to know were true. He prayed for us at the end of the lesson and we were able to set a return appointment. We then had to bike up (what seemed like mountainous roads) to the complete opposite side of the area to teach mark newport and follow up with our goal of having him set a date for baptism. We were able to have a great discussion and came to find out he hadn't been reading the Book of Mormon but had decided that reading the Bible was what he started to do. He came to understand why we were inviting with the Book of Mormon and committed to begin reading it daily. It was quite the night. And I was exhausted. Those bike rides take it out of ya! 
     Thursday was district meeting! We were informed by the AP's that I should let Elder Haslam teach the meeting so he could get some experience. And I thought it was a great idea! So we were able to be taught by him and it was good. following the meeting and roleplays we stopped by Sister Watson's house to make a visit and have some lunch with her. She bought us some pizza and then we were on our way full of pizza and jelly belly's. We headed up to do more Facebook and then went all the way back down to visit a man named Gilbert who wasn't home. BUT we were able to talk to one of his neighbors who were doing some yard work and they agreed that we could stop by and have a Christmas message with them! Right after we had another lesson with the Arandas and it was so frustrating. I don't know why but they liked to push my buttons. And it didn't help that elders haslam and garner were just laughing as they could see my frustration with trying to round up the three kids to have a spiritual lesson. I came to a point where I just didn't want to talk but let them teach. Grr. we met up with Brother Banks and had him come out with us to teach Nora Lew who is an investigator with a baptismal date for the end of the month. She is an older asian lady who has a disease similar to MS and has a strong desire to learn about the church. Right after we had Peyton come meet us at the church for another lesson and we had Brother Hilton come join us. She got a call after 5 min of our lesson from her mom whose car's battery had died. So we ended and drove over to the grocery store and tried to figure out what to do. She ended up just calling the tow truck and we all waited at this frozen yogurt place and got to talk with Peyton and her mom. Turns out her mom totally needs the gospel! She might even more interested than Peyton! 
     Friday morning was... stressful. We decided for breakfast to go to Jack in the Box for breakfast and came back just in time for studies. But when we got back, we had left our phones at the pad so we had a missed call from President on both phones and a text saying I needed to call him. Doing so he explained to me that after much prayer and consideration he wanted me to serve as his Assistant and would need to come to the Staff meeting in the office that morning with the other Assistants. SO not expecting that. At all. Felt totally out of place and not sure what to do. So until they came and picked me up I was rather fidgety and unable to really have an effective study. They came and picked me up and then we headed to the office for the meeting which was incredible to hear about all the time and effort that each of the senor couples that have been called to work in the missionary put into taking care of us missionaries. After a few hours of discussing the needs and business matters to say, we had some lunch and then headed into President's office to work on the rest of transfers and boy was that eye opening. let me put it this way. Transfers are like a puzzle. with 266 pieces. And you can't put two missionaries together that have been disobedient in the past. Who may not get along together. You also have to have people train. Be leaders. What to do with non baptizing areas. Seriously tough puzzle right? absolutely. But I felt like after the few hours spent that I was a little more wise as to how the mission runs. Just totally still shocked about it. The mysterious transfer board was opened for me. Pretty cool I must say. But after what seemed like all day, we headed back to south pas where I met up with the other Elders who were bombarding me with questions about what was going on. Similar to what I did to Elder Bangerter when he got called. I felt bad for putting him through that! We had a busy night though. Taught the Colmenares with Brother Mouri who told the kids to put away their phones. Brother Paul johnson again and his wife along with Brother Gonzales from the ward. And we finished off the night with a great lesson with Jacqueline and brother Caffall talking about family history work and getting her ready to enter into the house of the lord. So excited for that day!! 
     Saturday was pretty eventful as well. It was pouring rain all day and we had an early morning lesson with the Arandas because they were busy all weekend and unable to meet. So we had a lesson with them which wasn't as distracted as we read a page with them from the Book of Mormon. Following, Nate took us out to eat at this delicious burger pub in Pasadena called the Dog Haus. So good. He knew that people would be leaving and wanted to say good bye and spend time with us. Very nice of him. following lunch I was again picked up by the assistants and driven to the office to work on transfers some more and make them digital which was very tedious. going through the computer version of what we had on the big transfer board. That took most of the afternoon after stopping by Elder Bangerter's favorite Wendy's in the mission. I was dropped off in South Pas to make the tail end of their weekly planning and to help set up for the ward Christmas party which was a blast! Probably one of the oddest though. First off, there were these two stranger boys who came walking in off the street and a member told us to go talk to them. Turned out they had run away from home and had no where to go and were just lost. Both couldn't have been older than 17/18. We got them some food and told them to stick around so they could talk to our Bishop but after I told Bishop what was going on they were on their way out and said they couldn't stay. Odd. Later on in the party after some pictures with Santa were taken, there was an older woman who was having some breathing/heart ache problems and the ambulance was called and the paramedics arrived soon after to take her to the hospital. shortly after the assistants again came to get me to make the calls of transfers. which I was super nervous for for some reason but quickly learned the process which was still kind of confusing. We finished a bit before 10:30 and then started talking with President about what would happen in future transfers. Planning already for the transition to a new mission president in July and who would be assistants then. So crazy. But then we were just able to discuss with him about things. Family. His career. Scriptures. All while we were waiting for one of the spanish assistants (there are two english and two spanish assistants) finished a report. I didn't end up getting home until after midnight that night and not into bed until around 12:30ish. I was so exhausted. 
     Sunday came early as we went to coorelation and talked about transfers. Who would be leaving. The assistants being in the ward and having some sisters work in our ward partially. It was exciting to think our ward was being noticed of the progress we have made. The meetings flew by and we had a meeting with the Stake Presidency shortly after church in which we talked of the baptismal dates and baptisms in the stake. We had a quick lesson with the arandas when we finally got to south pas again, only to head back out to Arcadia for the departure devotional for those missionaries who would be leaving this week. This meeting I had been assigned to conduct. Very nerve wracking but seemed to be easier as the time went on. There were probably close to 300 people there. It was sad to see that Elder Bangerter would be leaving. Meant that time was flying by too fast to realize it. But it was a great week. Should be an experience of a transfer this upcoming one! 

I love you all and look forward to hearing about all your winter festivities! Keep sharing the love of the gospel. Have a great week and I'll be back on Saturday! 

Elder DeBry