Monday, January 13, 2014

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

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