Monday, January 13, 2014

Week 48 (11/18-11/25)

 Well. This has been one of the busiest weeks I've had thus far in the mission. One of the most satisfying as well. And to top it all off. We got put into a threesome mid week. And just barely, we got a call from the Assistants to let us know that Elder Mendoza is going home early for school, Elder Mabey will be going with Elder Mendoza's companion as a zone leader, and I will be staying Zone leader with Elder Haslam but we are going to be split up. I'll be moving down to El Sereno with Elder Garner and Elder Haslam will be with our third wheel, Elder Van Duren. Whom I will explain more about later on. CRAZY THINGS ARE HAPPENING TO ME! Ain't no doubt about it. But anyways, let me begin to explain the wonderful week that we have had! 
     Last Monday was actually really fun. We had another zone activity and it was almost the entire zone that showed up! After playing basketball for a while, I went out with Elder Finlinson to slackline outside the church building. Definitely got me hooked and since then, I've been hooked and trying to walk in straight lines since. We wrapped up and headed over to the Goodwin's house to have some dinner and a quick message to continue have our members be better missionaries. Not that they already aren't, but there is always room for improvement! The rest of the night was kind of a bust. We had planned to go find some people down in El Sereno. We crossed over to south of Huntington drive (the more ghetto part of El Sereno) to try by a former investigator. In that neighborhood about every yard had a dog fenced up that looked very, very fierce and not very puppy-ish. I guess a good tell-tale sign of a rough neighborhood! But after not finding who we were looking for, we started walking back to Huntington and we passed a guy who was pretty rough looking. And I honestly was a little afraid to talk to him but I knew that he needed the gospel too. So I asked him if I could give him a card and started talking to him. He turned out to be really friendly and told us to go sit on his porch while he finished up pulling these shopping carts full of scrap carpet onto his lawn... we were invited in and got to meet his wife Shannon and his friend Shelly who we got to talk to on the porch and she actually broke down in front of us as we were testifying of families. It was getting late so we didn't get to teach very long but we set up another time to stop by again and teach them more. Shelly who expressed interest in coming to Church wasn't feeling well so didn't stick around for our teaching moment. 
     Tuesday after studies we had the two girls that we met Sunday night stand us up and give us a false address.. lame. So we headed back up to Pasadena to do more internet proselyting! It was super good that day. I received two referrals and contacted one and taught one that day! It was a brother of a member from the singles ward who had grown up in the church but always doubted and had a lot of questions to it was very good I got to talk to him! Later that afternoon we had Robert Soquet give us a call and cancel both appointments that we had set up with him for that week.. so as we were in that area and tried by Elizabeth and some other formers, we ran into our favorite drunk, Paul and Rita! Outside Rita's apartment again. We started talking with them and Paul was going off again, beer to the side and just saying that what he really needed was to just go to rehab. I guess he had come into some money after some workers comp cases and some money he got from getting sick in prison for whatever he did.. so we dropped him and said we'd see him around. funny enough, we saw him the other day and he pretty much ignored us... oh some people! We had another appointment cancel, Robert's neighbor, Anabell who we were excited to teach because her father was a pastor of another church. But we had Brother Caffall come get us and take us to his house for a.. interesting and first time dinner of spaghetti squash noodles. Not saying I didn't like it! But it was just.. interesting!! But after we enjoyed the meal and brother caffall told us about his hunting stories and having a certain part of the deer made into a gear shifter! Even better was the Caffalls inviting their neighbor over, Mrs. Lake, who was this older black lady from Arkansas and had been a grade school teacher for a very long time and worked with a lot of LDS families! She was awesome and we invited her to help us teach our ward missionaries how to teach the missionary lessons. So we just need to teach he first and then she can teach them! Brilliant in my opinion! After that Brother Caffall assisted us in teaching Jacqueline who is just progressing splendidly! She is reading, praying for us and coming to church! And she has some great insight and comments during our lessons. She had some questions about tithing even so we got to address those and teach her about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Following that lesson we went over to Richard's house. the guy who belongs to the Church of Christ with the message of Elijah.. and the record of the Nephites.. it was a very interesting conversation. He was probably one of the more stubborn/not willing to listen english speakers I've taught and I was getting very frustrated. Especially as he was saying we had no doctrine behind baptisms for the dead and then proceeded to show him the scriptures from the Bible.. so we invited them to meet again but they weren't having it. So out we went without even a slice of pizza that they offered! take that! That night we met up with the El Sereno Elders and went on exchanges. Elder Mabey came into our area with me and Elder Haslam with Elder Garner. Found out that I really don't know the area that well still! so I was humbled very quickly. 
     Wednesday after some studies we headed into the office where we realized we had to wash the car for zone conference the following day.. so along with getting supplies we took the time and washed, vacuumed and even waxed the car in the gloomy afternoon, hoping it wouldn't rain. But alas.. later that night it did and I was very disappointed! Oh well.. because we didn't plan to wash the car we were behind schedule. Ontop of that, we received a call from Kristy Lewandowski telling us about some family problems that were going on and she requested that we come with the bishop to give her daughter a blessing later that evening. We weren't sure when we would acutally give the blessing so we had to stick around south pas to make sure we could when the time came. So we went to the library to do 30 min of proselyting which was really stressful because of the count down that shows up on the screen. After I finished (Elder Mabey just had to sit and watch). We talked to some people who were willing to listen as we were around the library then we got another call from Brother Lambourne (cousin of my math teach from skyline, small world eh?) saying that he had talked to his friend that he was going to school with and he had agreed to listen to the lessons! so we had to go run up and visit Thomas Albano to visit before we got picked up by Bro lambourne to teach his friend Jason Beck who was going to dental school with him. Jason was super cool and open to listening. Seemed pretty active in his southern baptist church and definitely fit the part with his southern Georgian draw. But Elder Mabey and I taught him the first discussion about the apostasy and the need for a restoration. Brother Lambourne had told us that Jason agreed to meet with us because we were 'newer' in the field and needed the practice of teaching and told us that we probably shouldn't invite him to be baptized.. but after Elder Mabey recited the first vision and the spirit was there, I couldn't NOT invite him and he actually said yes if he came to know that it was true. It was awesome and I think better than Brother Lambourne had expected it to go. Then he drove us over to Sister Whittmore's house to meet with her and Kristy, Alex and even Hector who has made a friendship with the family. It was awesome to have Hector be able to expound on the doctrine that we were teaching concerning the plan of salvation and Kristy seeming to learn more from him than she did from us. AFter that, it was getting pretty late so we rode to meet with the other elders to exchange back as it began to pour. Love being a missionary in the rain! 
     Thursday was ZONE CONFERENCE!!! OHHHHH man it was amazing. It was held at the Central building back in Glendale and I was never so excited to actually drive back to Glendale and see all the Armenians walking the street again. We got there early (after stopping by CVS for me to buy a new notepad and talking Armenian to the cashier :) ) and started setting up. Having to struggle finding enough tables for everyone to fit. Everyone straggled in as it was pouring rain outside and things didn't get started until 30 min after it was supposed to start. But it was awesome. Seriously the best zone conference that I've been to. Sister Becerra set the tone of the meeting by talking about high expectations. Followed by President Morgan of the la crescenta stake addressing us about how he was going to call a NON MEMBER TO BE THE BRANCH PRESIDENT OF THE ARMENIAN GROUP!! MEANING THAT IT WAS GOING TO TURN INTO A BRANCH!!!!!!!!!!! All of us Armenian Elders were in sheer awe as he said that! So stoked. Don't even know how to contain it all! Anyways it was awesome. Then we did some real plays and actually went out and found people on the street to talk to. I went out with Elder Cook and got to contact ALL THE ARMENIANS. It was rough. Really rough. but I managed a few phone numbers/addresses. so I still got it! The rest of the meeting was more roleplays with the Assistants and then President addressed us and followed up with all the things that Elder Ballard gave us to do such as talking to 10 people, asking everyone for referrals, ending convos on purpose. As always, he knows how to get us all pumped up!! After the meeting/cleaning up/handing out supplies, we stopped by Abril book store to pick up myself an Armenian dictionary that I've wanted forever but could never get myself to spend the money on. But I finally did and it is AWESOME! Funny story though, we ran into Nate Philips' coworker who is Armenian and was taking her kids to Armenian class at the store! But then we had to speed to dinner with the Astle family and then dip early to go have a lesson with the Jensen's before they took Hector to the Farmers market. they were late getting back though so we just had to teach a quick message and then go to our next lesson with PEYTON! Totally forgot to tell you about her. so she called us last p-day and told us that she wanted to meet with us and learn more because she had gotten a blessing from some Elders in the hospital and she was super excited and basically said she wanted to join our church... so we had an AWESOME lesson with her that night with Nate at the church. We got to get to know her a little bit more and she told us of some of the things that have gone on in her life that have caused her to look for more of God's guidance including past relationships and such. We taught her about the Restored Gospel and got to invite her to be baptized. She said she wanted to come to church but that she would pray about it. She is awesome. Almost as enthusiastic as Hector. And then our final lesson was with Mark Newport who is the husband of a member in the ward who has been meeting with missionaries for the past year and a half. But I felt like we needed to change it up with him and tell him to set a date for himself to work towards, but then to follow moroni 10:4-5 and pray to know if these things are NOT true. He said he had never done it that way and that he would! So that was awesome. i was skeptical at first because he had been coming to church every week but not making much progress but I liked teaching him. Maybe it was because he has a European accent. 
     Friday we again forgot to plan time to weekly plan... so we had an early lesson with Sister Walton and her blind friend, Lisa which was pretty rough. We taught a great lesson but because we couldn't find a third male to come with us, we had to have the lesson outside and it just so happened that the lawn was being mowed and the grounds upkept.. so that was very distracting and hard to feel the spirit. But she didn't quite understand the message of the apostasy because she still felt like all different churches were true.. after the lesson we stopped by McDonalds for the first time in a LONG time for me and we had some mcbreakfast. Which was very delicious. But then we went back and had our studies and then internet sturff. We finally got to do some very brief weekly planning session before we went and gave a blessing to Kristy Lewandowski to help her get over her cold with Brother Staten. Then Brother Luker came and picked us up and drove us out to have a lesson with Hector at his house where we discussed all the things that he was reading in the scriptures and got to talk about all the ways we have applied the things we've learned from our studies. Then back to El Sereno to teach Jacqueline about the Word of Wisdom! We weren't planning on teaching her that but she had brought up the question of caffine and so we got to teach her that. She brought up the fact that she had a bit of a smoking problem but that she wasn't worried about overcoming it. But it sounds like things have been going well so far so that is good! And finally last lesson (yes we taught a lot a lot of lessons this week) we stopped by Kumar/shannon/shelly's again to teach them about the plan of salvation because shelly brought up her concerns of why bad things happened to her when she wasn't doing anything wrong.. at the end of the lesson we got to invite them to be baptized. Kamar said he was happy with being muslim but would still learn from us but shannon and shelly both accepted and just asked 'well how can we be baptized?? Is it okay that we have already been baptized??" then we left them with an invitation to come to church as well. BUSY BUSY BUSY!! 
     Saturday was a curve ball. We got a call mid personally study telling us that we would be getting a third companion, Elder Van Duren from Colorado who was coming from Claremont on the eastern most part of the mission. All we learned was that we'd have to pick him up that morning and that we had to keep an eye on him. So we tidied up the pad a little bit, finished studies, wondering what we'd do with a third companion and then got another call from President to tell us to come pick him up from the office. So we went and had to wait around for him and his companion to be interviewed/talk to President before we had to go run an errand for President by emptying the van. I guess he and Elder Plewe had been up all night becasue there was another bicycle accident where a sister missionary got hit in the crosswalk and the driver didn't stop. But she is doing okay and will be able to stay out here and work. So us three did as we were told and then headed back to the pad to finish our weekly planning which we had to rush on. We also had to try and figure out how we'd fit three elders into the little cozy pad that we already have. But it all worked out.. sort of. guess it will work better now that I'm moving out again.. don't like moving! Anyways, we were invited a few nights before by some random younger woman to come over for an early thanksgiving dinner just up the road from where we were. She said she had family that who were members of the church and that we could stop by. So we did but found out that dinner wasn't quite ready yet. So we got to meet them and find out that the grandmother was a recent convert but had fallen away from the church some odd years ago and wasn't interested in going back.. but they also showed us that some people deep fry turkey's??? never seen that done so they showed us out back. Before we knew it we had to go with no early dinner for us but an invitation to come back and have another dinner with them. So off we went to find something else to eat and then have our member Brother Beaumont come and pick us up to go out and visit some people for the night. We stopped by Robert again but he wasn't home, neither was his neighbor Annabel. so we got to street contact and the other two were off doing their thing I was with Brother Beaumont who was a pretty cool guy. We did get to have a lesson though with Peyton and it really showed how golden Peyton is. She showed up having taken notes and the things that she had read, other questions she had from reading and from other things that she had heard or had been asked to her. One of her questions being 'how can I repent of my sins'.. she was so awesome. Seriously love being able to find people who are just WANTING to hear the gospel. Makes things so much more enjoyable! 
     Sunday was a miracle. We had four investigators at church. Jacqueline. Hector. Peyton and Mark. Shelly didn't come because she wasn't feeling well but oh well.. FOUR INVESTIGATORS!! Ah! And it was just awesome. Our sunday school class was half investigators. So awesome. After church we went over and had a lesson with the lewandowski's, hector and alex's boyfriend, Jesse, who came to church the other week. We stopped by the convalescent home and visited Thomas and Cornell again who had some people he wants us to start teaching in the home. Then we rushed to the Waltons for a dinner that was quite nice and fun. Home made cinnamon rolls at the end and a minute to win it lesson to get them wanting to share the gospel. After dinner we stopped by Sister Watsons to visit her and have some rootbeer floats and hear how she was doing and to make sure she got the sacrament. then we stopped by the lopez's to set up a time this upcoming week to teach them. Just an awesome day/week. 

So overall we have four progressing investigators. we taught 20 lessons this week. 8 new investigators. Our area is booming. It is incredible. and now i'm off to this new adventure with Elder Garner.. oh and it is thanksgiving this week! So happy thanksgiving everyone! I love you all very, very much. I am very thankful for this Gospel and for all the support from you. I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season :) 

Elder DeBry

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