Monday, January 13, 2014

Week 46 (10/28-11/4)

 Well! Hello again! It is a whole new world of missionary work here in South Pasadena! Lemme tell ya!! I also don't think a week has ever flown by this fast in my entire life!!...but seriously it was an awesome week. Full of adventure, a lot of hard work, rough areas and adrenaline while sharing the gospel! What more can I say! 
     So last monday went by way too fast. I moved into my new little pad (and I mean little) that is the bottom half of the back house of the Muhlstein family. Unpacked a bit and got to meet Elder Haslam a bit who is a great guy and an excellent missionary. He's quite the character. But anywhosers. After we emailed y'all we got to play basketball (which is not my forte in life) and then headed back to the pad. I was then told that we never had to go grocery shopping for any major items of food because the ward we serve in take care of us whenever we need something!! I was dumbfounded to hear that! Not that i'm complaining but seriously! Elder Haslam says that he hasn't had to buy groceries since he got here... ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! Sounds like a pretty awesome ward to me! But anyways, after having to take the train home we didn't have much time to do much else so sorry for the lack of letters this week. We headed over to the Statton home to have a family home evening with some recent converts of Elder Haslam. Brother Statton works at JPL tracking weather with math and they have four very rambunctious children. The recent converts that came over what Kristie Lewandowski and her daughter Alex. As well as Kristie's mother Reynolds Whittemore who has just recently come back from inactivity. It was a bit awkward especially having them sing some primary songs that I wasn't familiar with... But Brother Statton gave me a free bike tune up so that was sweet! After that I wanted to go out and meet some of the ward mission and bishopric. So we stopped by the Jensen home to meet the assistant ward mission leader Dillion. (Oh and most of the ward are USC dental students or very young, recently married couples. A lot that come from G7!) But they seemed really cool and wanted us to come for dinner some night. And they asked us what we needed from Costco so... milk and cheese please! Next stop was kind of a trip. We stopped by this convalescent home and visited this guy names Thomas Albano. He I think is still a member but not sure where his membership stands... he fell away from the church a ways back when he started acting on his homosexuality and he now has AIDS and is on his death bed here in South Pasadena... it was very odd. He feels the guilt of what he has done in the past but doesn't have a strong enough testimony of the Atonement to know he can be forgiven.. Maybe it was a weird feeling of lesson because I really don't like convalescent homes.. nope. They creep me out having all these old people ask us to let them out of there! We finished the night with a very steep bicycle climb to our ward mission leader's house to meet him. he's awesome. Nathan Philips. Works for Disney and Nokia and gets to travel the world. Very organized and gung ho about doing ward missionary work. So I think we have a ton of potential for getting work done here in South Pas! 
     Tuesday was very new and unfamiliar. I enjoyed it but just had no idea what to really do! Definitely out of my comfort zone but it was good. We tried to find some taco truck down in El Sereno (the bottom half of our area/the ghetto of pasadena..well it's technically LA county). We couldn't find an actual truck because it was earlyish but we did find some kind of expensive authentic tacos... still like my taco bell! Which we don't have in my area... But I don't even know what happened the rest of the afternoon! I was so turned around and most of the people weren't home so I didn't know who we were visiting. But I was introduced to a family in the ward named the Figeroas who take care of our dinner calendar. But they gave us a referral of this guy to try by who we did and set up an appointment for Saturday.. but he flaked. But I did learn that the major gang here in is the El Serenos Barrio... supposedly it used to be pretty rough a few years ago but has cleaned up a lot! But we tried by this guy Moses who is a member of the el serenos.. but he wasn't home. ANYWAYS! We did stop by this former named Robert and got to teach him a lesson! His brother a few months ago was beaten to death down in Mexico and he has been taking it really hard and has been depressed.. but we taught him about the plan of salvation and baptisms for the dead and committed him to a baptismal date of November 30. super stoked. But after that we headed up to visit Sister Watson who is this 86 year old, sweet as can be, west virginian little little lady who loves the missionaries. She's my new addition to grandmas for sure! We got called by the office though to run and do an errand for some other Elders who were in need of a fridge... so our visit was cut short and we had to go back to the pad and wait for the assistants to drop off a car to us so we could run said errand.. which took forever! Our zone is massive. But by the time we had driven to Alhambra and back to Arcadia the office was closed.. but we made it back to our lesson with Sister Richards who is a less active in the ward. We had Brother Caffel come and join us and got to teach her about Mosiah 2-5. Only one of the best general conference addresses! And the last stop was going by Mutual at the church building to meet the bishop who is really young but is fitting for how young the median age is in the ward! 
     Wednesday morning we had to wake up early and run around some study materials to the district leaders in the zone for district meeting on Thursday.. it wouldn't have been too bad but we have a district all the way down in Motebello... 30 min drive from our pad. sheesh! Seriously felt like we were running errands all morning though because after studies we ran to the office to get supplies, drop off this fridge for the Elders, and also pick up a bike for another Elder from his old pad in Monrovia.. not a fan but you gotta do what you gotta do. When we finally made it back to our area we biked back down to El Sereno to try and catch Moses again but had to go look for him at a mechanic shop down the street where he didn't want to talk to us there.. then headed to go try a less active mother and daughter and saw some gang members tagging up the streets with their "LSB" tag... only in the hood! But don't worry, I'm completely safe. They like us angels/church people. So we headed off to another sketch part of town and to no avail.. but instead had to again trudge up this massive hill again.. seriously! But one thing that has made me so sad to see down here has been all these big dogs that have obviously been bread and used to fight. Almost every other house has a big guard dog or a bunch of little yappers that are even more vicious! We had dinner with the figeroas that night and celebrated Brother Figeroa's birthday. One of the most humble, quiet spoken man i've ever met! And he even gave us a ride home so we didn't have to go on Locke street at night! 
     Thursday was Halloween!! We had to wake up early again to run supplies out to the district leaders but this time we knew how long it'd take to do it! But it still took longer because we got lost.. it doesn't help to have two missionaries together who have only served in one or two areas and have them drive somewhere in the unknown.. We made it to district meeting which was probably one of my favorites because our district leader, Elder Maybe, was rather funny and unique in the way he presented the lesson.. which wasn't exactly what he was supposed to teach but it was his district meeting, not mine! He even bought us donuts to celebrate :) Even though it wasn't a super festive day. Funny though. We went to lunch at this burger place and ran into two less active members who Elder Haslam wasn't aware of. One guy who served a mission but fell away because he didn't like the church's view on gays and he was gay. It seemed like an abnormally long day because we ditched the bikes and walked/used buses all day.. we stopped by Moses again and dropped him basically because he wasn't looking for it. But that kind of set the tone for the rest of the afternoon. We were walking all day trying by people. not having much success. more hills. But just as it was getting dusk we got another referral from the figeroas and when they said no to having us come by another time, we ran into their neighbor who was another less active member who said we could stop by! The Lord is just placing people infront of us!! But Elder Haslam was getting pretty discouraged and thinking nothing was going to come of the night but I wanted to try by one last former we planned in the area.. on our way we passed by these three guys. one of them bellowed out to us to come talk to him and after some talking he wanted for us to say a prayer for him right there after expressing to us that he was an alcoholic and wanted to change and he'd do anything to turn his life around... so I probably said one of the most sincere prayers for this man Paul who after the prayer was in tears and we were able to bear testimony to him and teach him of the changing and enabling power of the Gospel. He was saying all the right things and had one of the purest intent of anyone I've seen to listen and learn from us. We set another time we could stop by and closed with a prayer. One of the more powerful experiences I've had out here. So on our way out of that area, trick or treating had begun and so as people passed us, we got a lot of compliments on our hilarious costumes.. followed with the question of... you're not real, are you? But we made our way up to Sister Watson's to have some pizza and help her pass out Halloween candy with cards in the baggies we were handing out! On our way home though from her house it was ridiculously busy with trick or treaters! Like worse than harvard-yale area busy! Basically all the people from surrounding areas came to our street. So that was fun!
     Friday we started off by riding some buses back to good ole Glendale to pick up a package that was waiting for me! (p.s.Thanks Mom!) I miss Glendale.. It seems so distant that I was there already. Struggling to keep up my Armenian with no one to talk to or even listen to... sad face. But we had a long afternoon of studies and weekly planning which was actually very productive because much planning was needed to be done in order to keep us on purpose! But we had called up the Elders quorum president and had him take us out to dinner to get to meet him at Sinor Fish (very delicious) and then went back and shared a message with him and his wife about how we could work with them to share the Gospel with their friends and family. But it was solid! After we rode down to visit this guy Tino who was kind of an investigator according to Elder Haslam. I can definitely see how they got stuck teaching him! Super talkative and friendly guy but wasn't willing to really listen.. so I kind of had to keep talking over him and almost argued with him but restrained and kept the spirit and we dropped him! Love dropping lessons! No time to waste! On our way back to South Pas Elder Haslam for the first time on the mission, crashed on his bike! Long story short, I decided to obey the law and stop and a stop sign and he almost hit me but hit the brakes and yep! pretty funny! I felt bad though. Oh well! But I decided to buy him a shake at this really cool retro pharmacy that reminds me of Jolleys but cooler. 
     Saturday we got called up to help clean the church building because no one was going to show up.. but it's squeaky clean now! And every Saturday morning this family has almost expired food delivered to their house for people to pick from and we got first dibs! Lost of breads and sweets and such! Then we had some people not show up to our lessons down in El Sereno.. but we did see some people doing drugs at some bus stop and we saw Paul! I guess we had just barely missed him that morning and we invited him to church the next day and we'd pick him up. Had a meeting with our stake representative about the zone which was super helpful and then grabbed some in n out before we finished our studies.. then we had the fernilius family take us to dinner with these massive pastrami burgers.. not as good as crown burger though. But then we had Kristie call us up and want a lesson so we met her and her two young boys at the park and I found out that the missionaries are her legal counselors for some reason.. so that is just what we did! Kind of weird  but that is basically what we do on a gospel standpoint anyways, right? Then we stopped by Thomas again and boy was he not doing too well. He just kept saying he was hopeless and could never be forgiven.. it got to the point where he was basically asking for us to repent for him. sorry guy, doesn't work that way. 
     Sunday we forgot it was day light savings time.. so we missed out on getting to sleep in an hour. how sad is that? I was looking forward to it for the past month! Oh well.. we had mission coorelation at Nate's house which was super fancy with a projection presentation to all the new ward missionaries and auxiliaries and  everything. But church was great. I bore my testimony which I haven't done in a long time and I loved being able to do that. Even though I had to follow two adorable little girls that went right before me. But it gave me teh time to be introduced so that worked out! After church Nate had us over to break our fast and made some grilled cheeses but then we got a call from the other Elders dinner appointment and they told us that we'd be having dinner with them... so we had to rush and give Sister watson the sacrament and a blessing because she is having eye surgery today and wanted to make sure all would be well. But then we had to rush to the Jaeger dinner (pronounced like Yager) and they were a super cool family! Wife is a member and husband isn't. She works for NBC and is a newscaster. Might start teaching him. Then we wanted to go see if we could find Paul because he wasn't there that morning to take to church and we found him and taught him a lesson in a super sketchy alley and committed him to be baptized December 22!! It was another super powerful lesson. One I'll never forget that is for sure!

Well I gotta go so sorry to end this abruptly! I love you all and hope you have a wonderful week! Hajo!! 

Elder DeBry

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