Friday, February 28, 2014

Week 61 (2/17-2/24)

  Well this past week was probably one of the most amazing weeks of my mission. And I know looking back on the time that I have been out I have said that quite a few times but seriously this one tops the rest! It was such a testimony builder week and a powerful one with the baptisms we had on Saturday. That was the highlight for sure but there were just so many good times we had this past week! No time to waste to explain about them all! 
     Last monday was an emailing p-day so that wasn't too fun. Not a big fan of these big novel-like emails but I don't have much time to journal when I get home at night so it is the time to fill in the cracks when I don't have time so really... this is more for me! But anyways. we did go to the mall and got some red robin which was delicious and we had someone approach us and asked if we were the missionaries they had seen on FACEBOOK!!! So stoked that video has been going viral! The rest of the night was pretty ineffective. Right before we were finished with pday we got a text from Ashot saying he had some more stuff for Elder Cook from his parents. So we waited around for him at the Church... and then our apartment..; and finally we just needed to go get stuff done but right as we were going to head up to Burbank Ashot said he would meet us at the Church... so FINALLY all four of us Armenian Elders drove up to Burbank to try by some potentials... it was a mess. We both had to go to some areas and Elder Twelves was cutting people off and they were following us and we almost ran out of gas and by that time it was almost time to head back.. frustrating. We parked the car and tried by this referral we had received from Elders Llewelyn and Coontz that was down the street from us. This man opens the door named Markus and lets us in but says as we enter.. 'you'll need to forget what you see in here'.. whatever that meant. Kinda creeped me out. But he was pretty normal... kind of walks the line of insane and genius. He told us he was only 20% dead but that he needed help! He was telling us some weird stories from him going to visit some other churches and we only had time to do some how to begin teaching and set up a return appointment. But better than nothing! 
     Tuesday was a trek back up to GCC campus to start off the next semester! After some brief morning studies we headed up there via bus on the overly crowded, REALLY get to know the person standing next to you bus ride. But it was a good time. There were lots of people up on campus and we took a different approach. Instead of the standard surveys which most people have taken on campus, we were handing out flyers that advertised the free lunch at the institute building which got us a little bit more attention but some people even turned down free lunch... can you believe it? But probably the best thing that happened was in the first 5 min a guy that I was trying to talk to, who rejected the free lunch flyer, stopped for a split second and asked 'hey haven't I seen you on facebook?' and it was awesome. We talked to some good people and such and as we were packing up to leave we were walking past some club booths and the one guy that asked if I was the guy in the video brought me up to a bunch of his friends and we started talking and I joined their service club! Not sure what the name was for the club but all they said was they did service and I could come to the activities even though I'm not a student! We headed back and had some lunch at the institute and had some of the people we invited come and join us. After all that fun we headed back to do some afternoon studies. We also realized that we needed to wash the car in preparation for the next days zone conference so we headed into the office and washed, waxed and cleaned our car til it shined like new :) I was impressed. That evening we were able to meet up at the Church and meet with both Christina Avoian and teach her about the temple before she was interviewed by the Bishop for her temple recommend. She has had some of her immediate family pass and that has been really hard for her. So when we were able to explain that she could be baptized and confirmed for them all in the temple she was brought to tears and I could feel how much the temple is going to mean for her in the future. And at the same time Elder Cook went and taught Hambarsoom at the Church with Ashot and I guess had a really good lesson and set him with a new baptismal date of 8 March. Hopefully he'll make it and won't disappear for another month.. after those lessons we I think headed out to try by some people. Met this cool kid Mazhan who is an atheist but has read the bible a few times and has read a lot of religious material and was cool to meet with us again!  
     Wednesday was ZONE CONFERENCE!!!!!! We all met up at the South Pasadena building. Always a good feeling to be able to walk into a familiar building and have the flood of good memories come back! I miss South Pas. It was a good area. One of the best! But anyways, the majority of zone conference was role-playing the new style of teaching with pamphlets and the Book of Mormon. it was good. No really new information but it was just a good time to have some practice. Overall, it was good. After the meeting we headed back to Glendale and got ready to teach Armenian class which we were expecting people to not show up but Peter and his member wife came (whose name I can never remember. which is awkward because when i call on her in the class i always have to pause) and then funny thing was Nate couldn't be there but he skyped in and participated that way. But it was a really good lesson! Not sure how long we'll keep this Armenian class going at this rate, however. 
     Thursday we didn't have district meeting in light of zone conference. So we headed up to verdugo hills again that morning to try by some of the people that we had received from the Sisters. None of them were home or able to meet at the time. Lame. But we headed back and Nate took us Armenian Elders out to lunch. First we went to this Arabic/middle eastern place for lunch which was kind of expensive for the small amount of food we got. Funny story though. Nate got some Armenian language study CD's to listen to and so he tried to order lunch in Armenian and the lady was laughing and thought it was the most entertaining thing. Probably thought he was flirting with her. My favorite was how he randomly asked where the street was that we were on, only to be able to use the bit he had been working on. But we then went back to the Church and started to work on a game plan to hasten the work in the Armenian group. We talked about what to do up on campus, activities we could do and how to expand into the surrounding areas. And after that much we were still all hungry and hit up TB again. Right after that we got a text from one of my formers, Cynthia, who said she was up at GCC and asked if we wanted to meet. so we quickly caught the bus up there and met her up at the institute. She at fist didn't want a lesson but instead just wanted to talk with us and some of the other members that were there at the time. But we some how started talking about what made us happy and we thought of to show her a Bible Video so we did and showed her the one of Christ being baptized. It was a pretty powerful short video and we got to bear testimony and the spirit was definitely felt as I shared another scripture in John 10 about Christ returning to the place of his baptism. We invited her to attend a baptismal service that we had on Saturday and then headed out. We were on our way back to the church when we ran into one of the G1 Sister's investigators who we started talking to and found out that she had quite a few concerns about the sisters and them not really being able to answer her questions and taking too long in lessons to be able to meet often... but she had bomb questions and had a great desire to learn more! so we had to be sure to talk to the sisters about that and give them some tips on what they could do better. Then we headed up to the Bradleys for dinner. The Korean Elders ended up coming because they are in the Bradley's ward. Afterwards we went and visited Kris Aristakissian who we found around the corner from his house and taught him back at his house. He was bringing up some of his concerns again how bad things happen and we taught more scripture how they are all for our experience. He ended up coming to Church Sunday too :) So that was a good lesson. 
     Friday was frustrating. Elder Cook and I had some bomb studies and great role-playing which led up into a disappointing day... it was frustrating. We went to the Church to do some online and clean up the baptismal font and then coordinate more with the other Elders about venturing out into Burbank and Hollywood. And then our afternoon appointment cancelled with one of our Verdugo potentials. Lame again. And then we had a not very effective weekly planning. i don't know what it is but it just seems to take FOREVER to weekly plan with these new devices. AND I love him to death, but elder Cook sure does get distracted with the iPad. So I've been trying to help him with that! After a very incomplete planning we drove over to Mike and Bridget's to have dinner/lesson which was actually pretty productive. Bridget had bought us some delicious tamales and we had a baptismal interview with Mike to see where he was at! He still isn't sure that Christ is the son of God or how exactly the Atonement is needed/or works as well as if we have a prophet here on the earth today. He is just going to take time. I feel like we are just going in circles with them. But it was a way too long of a lesson and we got out of there late and didn't get to anyone else that night. 
     Saturday was amazing. We got up early to start the baptismal font and make sure everything was good to go. While we waited we watched those old Church advertisements about family and 'isn't it about, time?' which were hilarious. But then the service started and it was simple, short and powerful. It was probably the best baptismal service I've been a part of. The testimony that was shared of the person who was baptized was so pure and special that it really helped me to feel that closeness with those I teach. AFter that there were some light refreshments and then we headed back to a lesson which we had set up with a lady we met up in verdugo hills but she wasn't home.. but her husband was indeed Armenian so we plan to go visit them tonight. We stopped by and saw Ragned and taught her the first lesson with the new pamphlets. She said she would be baptized! And come to Church but we're stil not sure what her questions are because our meetings with her are usually all over the place or awkward. Then we headed back and did some more studies. I was getting nervous at that time though because I had been in contact with Elder Lloyd about Hectors baptism that night and they hadn't heard from him that day.. come to find out he was just out late and was asleep... scared me half to death though. We decided to go out to a nice dinner though because it had been such an awesome day. We went to outback and then caught the bus back and got the car to ride out to South Pas again for the baptism of Hector Pasillas. Although he was late and it was stressing everyone out, and he was just taking forever, it was so awesome. Some good talk was given by Dillon Jensen that gave me some new insight about Abraham Lincoln. But the highlight was the actual ordinance. it was so powerful. He had awaited this moment and thought he'd have to wait even longer but what a blessing it was to be there for him. After the baptism he bore his testimony of the atonement. It was super powerful. He is just such a stud! It was an awesome day. 
     Sunday was good. Jerry had an accident in Sunday school. Anoush was upset that no one had wished her a happy birthday but we did to Deborah. I translated Anoush's lesson in relief society(I'm getting better!) and then we had both Mike and Hambarsoom at sacrament. Also, Kris Arisstakisian came which was awesome. Anna and Armen Gvorgian spoke. Almost put me to sleep but he didn't succeed. After sacrament Elder Cook had his music lesson with Nvart's nephew, Kevin, and then we ran back to the apartment to grab the car and head up to the Townsends. But on the way we saw Narek talking to some other people and explaining his 'magic mirror' and the leaf that had fallen perfectly center. We rushed past him so we wouldn't have to talk to him but he saw us and caught up to us at the corner "with open arms" and hugged us as he had a stink of alcohol. He kept telling us of further revelation he had received and when we could stop by again when two police cars pull up and one of the officers calls out to him by name and asks what he has been up to and tells him to put his hands behind his head and turn around. Both of them searched him and made sure he wasn't carrying weapons and while they were he was telling them how we had stopped by and knew him and that we understood what he was telling them about his mirror because we were 'spiritual people'. At this point both Elder cook and I weren't sure what to think because we in our last lesson with him told him we'd vouge for him and tell people he wasn't crazy! So funny. One of the officers pulled us aside and asked if we knew him, ever been threatened by him or anything. But don't worry, we hadn't been. But then she found out that we spoke Armenian and said "man I wanted to find out how I could do the whole learn Armenian in three months thing but they said I couldn't because I wasn't a missionary." and then we invited her and her other officer friends to our Wednesday evening class! Then off to the Townsends for dinner. Which was super quick because then Ashot called us and had us come help him move from his old house to his new one which took a lot longer than we thought. It was fun though and we got Ashot in a good mood again. It is never fun to have him in a bad mood. Elder Cook and I got to ride in the back of the moving truck which was fun. Last thing of the night was teaching Markus again. Again, we didn't get to much of the lesson but we did talk about baptism for a while and he explained how he would go to different churches and learn about them and we invited him to be bapitzed and he said he wasn't prepared but if he was he would. So that was good. Not sure how accountable he is but we'll see. 

Anyways, it was a wonderful week. I love you all and hope you have a great week! Be safe and keep smiling! 

Elder DeBry

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