Monday, January 13, 2014

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

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