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 ourappt 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!