Last monday we did some slack lining and as we were doing so outside the church, Anthony Tanielian who Elder Dicus and I taught and then passed him off to the zone leaders last March (a year ago... sheesh!) rode past on his bike and stopped and started doing it with us. He has grown a massive, thick beard which is totally awesome. Still a little shaky with testimony and church attendance but he is getting better. Nate drove us over to grab some groceries. Then we headed back to the church and the Carlin family (who know Grandma Joan) had all four of us Armenians over for dinner. While doing so, Sister Carlin was adamant of having us participate in a musical fireside that she wanted to put on around Easter and the other Elder threw me under the bus and told them that I did a play once upon a time and could sing mediocrely... anyways dinner was delicious. Nice to have a member meal! Then we headed back to the Church. We headed up to Sun Valley afterwards with the car to try by some referrals that we had gotten from the Sisters up there for people in their apartment building. We had to wait around a bit for them to come open the door and when we tried by them, they weren't home. Afterwards we had to run back down to Glendale to meet Brother Bradley at Rita's house. She is super funny. She kept showing up all her ceramic hedge hogs that she had for her garden. She couldn't exactly pronounce how to say "hedge hog" so we got a good chuckle. We started teaching her the Gospel of Jesus Christ when she got an important call from her husband who is in Saudi Arabia working. Rita introduced us to him over her phone. I guess he is trying to get a travelers visa to come visit but they won't let him because they think he might try and stay. So she was kind of stressed and she asked that I give her a blessing. I have to admit it was much easier to give a blessing in Armenian than I remember.
Tuesday morning after studies Elder Twelves and I went up to GCC to reorganize how we do the booth. Nate gave us a few good ideas to just put up a board with a topic that we have studied and answer peoples questions about it or have catchy things. So we went up and just set up a single white board and wrote up "6 ways to be happier today!" and it was actually pretty cool. In the first few minutes we had people approach us and ask us what it was we were doing and we got to talk to them and relate it to the gospel! So it was a good approach that I think we'll start to use from now on. Had some lunch down at the institute. Then had to wait around for a while for the Zone leaders and the singles ward sisters to show them how we were doing the booth from now on. Then we headed down to Hollywood again! We were headed down Hollywood blvd, saw the Was Museum, Capital records, the Pantages theater. Had to take a detour because of a movie they were filming. Then started walking around to visit some potentially less active armenian members in that area. We ran into one and should be coming back this upcoming week (telling us he is already a mormon but didn't have time to meet). The next family we visited were very welcoming and friendly though! They invited us in and told us they hadn't been able to go due to health reasons. But we should be able to visit them tonight. We had to rush back to Glendale because Nate offered to go on a quick visit to Valerik after he got off work. Traffic down in Hollywood is TERRIBLE. And I don't know if Elder Twelves' driving is any better... but Nate picked us up and we visited both Valerik and Knarik. Knarik's mom was there but told us that she wasn't. Then we showed up to Valerik's right as she was getting home and told us that she was busy and wouldn't be able to meet but that she'd call us. Super sad though. We got a call from her the next day telling us that she spoke with her husband about having us over for visits and he said that we wouldn't be able to come over because he didn't have house insurance? She said that when they were ready to meet again they would come to Church on their own time... so she dropped us. And was calling me Brian. So I wasn't too happy about that. It was time for some in 'n out to cheer us up. Then we went out with the leadership to do some visits. Elder Twelves and I ended up going to visit Christina Avoian with both Brother and Sister Bradley. We went over and she was having some health issues and a panic attack so we gave her a blessing to calm her down and shared the message of the Plan of Salvation to give her further comfort. I guess her having all these health issues were typical when they were first teaching her but the week or two before and after her baptism she was better enough to finish the lessons and be baptized! So that was cool.
Wednesday morning we headed up to GCC again to meet with Cynthia. We were running a bit late getting out of the apartment because of the distractions that come with being in a four-pad... such as wrestling and nerf guns... kind of frustrating. But anyways we headed up there and started talking to her. We just can't figure her out. She is interested, but tries to play it off that she isn't. She told us she wants to read more of the Bible before she gets into the Book of Mormon and that she tried to stop swearing. It is interesting though, as we started addressing her concern of wanting to clean up her language and study the scriptures more she felt the spirit and was more intune with what we were saying. But then more people came into the institute and were making a ruckus... typical. But I feel like we're making some progress with her. Slowly. Very. After that lesson we made another road trip out to Chino! Last transfer they had been teaching someone on a weekly basis who some spanish Elders had found and been teaching but his Gospel vocabulary wasn't the strongest so we would follow up with clarification and such. He owns a dry cleaning shop and so that is where we met. It was a bit distracting. But he is super sincere that he wants to learn and go to church but he just is a busy guy and we told him that we wouldn't be able to visit him if he wasn't reading or going to Church out there in Chino. We set up a date in the next few weekends for him to attend Church and if he does then we will come back. At the end of the lesson he prayed and said one of the more sincere prayers that I have heard. Asking for more time to read and go to Church that he may know that is is true. His Armenian was pretty hard to understand because it was such a thick Western dialect. We made the long drive back and stopped by MexiCali on the way back while we were driving through LA to get up to Burbank. Missed that place. So delicious. Then we headed up to Burbank into this area right by the big Armenian Church up there where there are tons of condos full of Armenian people (according to all the missionaries that we met up there). On the way up we ran into the zone leaders who were out knocking doors. That is all they do I guess and I was shocked. Just as shocked as they were that I said I have never knocked a door on my mission! I am determined never to just knock like they do. Just doesn't make sense! We then headed up to Sun Valley again to meet the sisters to let us into their building again. This time we met their neighbor, Arpa! Who was actually super cool and really impressed that we spoke Armenian. The only thing was that she liked to talk A LOT A LOT A LOT. So we were at her doorstep for a good 40 minutes with her mostly just talking to us but at the end we were able to tell her about G7 because she has gotten into some trouble lately with the law and said she needed a better group to get involved with that would help her have a good foundation. Bingo! So we'll see where that leads. As of yesterday she is planning on going next week and she wants us to go with her so she isn't going alone. After we escaped, we visited one other referral we had received from some other burbank missionaries for a guy who apparently invited them in even though he couldn't understand them. This guy's name was Edwin and he was awesome. Invited us in. Has a a wife and two kids. Super nice guy. Impressed we speak the language. From Tehran, Iran and has lived here for a few years but it has been rough for him. He loves Christ and we shared the message of the restoration with him and his Mom who came in later in the lesson and he said that Joseph Smith's story wasn't too out of the ordinary and that he had seen Christ in a dream when he had cancer and in the dream he was healed of cancer. So that was pretty incredible. He wanted us to come over again so we scheduled another time the following day. Then to end the night we went back to the Church and met the Bradleys and met with Christine Hagopian to follow up with her smoking and goal setting of overcoming it. She had smoked the day before but we had a good lesson to help her set her goal on trying to share the gospel with someone who frustrates her and makes her want to smoke.
Thursday we had a good district meeting given by Elder Cook on teaching by the Spirit. After we had to rush off because we had planned to meet one of the Hollywood investigators who was Armenian and on track to be baptized. Ended up that he wasn't home. We started walking around to try and contact some people and we found some awesome Armenians who were thrilled that we spoke Armenian. One was a teacher who knew both Armenian and Russian and said that if we helped her with English she would help us learn Russian! So I was pretty stoked. We headed back to Glendale so the other Elders could use the car. Elder Tyler was finally certified to drive this past week sooooo that was interesting to see him drive. in a new city. after not driving for 6 months. bu no worries, he didn't crash! When we got back we tried by a few people, ran into Helga and stopped by to help her with a few things of service and shared a brief message and confirmed Sunday night lesson. Then we tried by David Garoian who Elder Dicus and i got yelled at because we were trying by his neighbors and used his name to contact him... whoops! Then we were picked up by the other elders to head up to Bradley's for dinner where they took us to this place where it is like subway but for pizza and you could put anything you want on it!So that was awesome. Then to end the night we headed off to meet with Edwin again and it was a pretty terrible lesson. It was my bad too... I was trying to hard to control the lesson and I was speaking to much and didn't exactly follow the lesson plan which threw Elder Twelves off... he ended up telling us how he was a missionary in Iran and telling us he wanted to come to Church on Sunday... ended okay but wasn't very satisfied. I was pretty frustrated. Don't like not having good lessons!
Friday during our lunch hour we went over to home depot with nate to try and find some parts to modify our nerf guns in preparation for our zombie apocalypse battle today.. didn't find any. So we did weekly planning. During which Elder Coontz, an elder in G1, cut his finger open trying to open his nerf gun with his big china town knife and ended up having to go to the hospital to get some stitches. Finished weekly planning and had a lesson with Varter and Vardon. Irocially enough we were planning on talking to them about meeting their sons who were members but not active and we met one at their house for a bit and it led right into the lesson. Then we had some Chipotle with Nate again. Headed up to Burbank again to hit up the Cabrini condos and find some of the Armenian members there. To no avail but we did meet this one english member who was inactive and she referred us to one of her neighbors so that was good! Before we called it a night we stopped by Ashot's place to talk about the baptism the next day. He was super happy that we stopped by and we took Niki for a walk and talked to him about teaching his wife, Adrineh, whom he hopes will agree to take the lessons this week. But I guess we'll see!
Saturday was the baptism of Hambarsoom Arstakesyan. It was only us four, the Bradley's and Turley's, and Ashot and Hambarsoom. I conducted the meeting :) Hambarsoom was in tears after the meeting as everyone was congratulating him. The spirit was very strong because of how simple it was. But after it was all finished, Henry Ammar brought us some tacobell and we waited around for Edwin to show up to take him on a tour but he never did... after that we headed up to Tujunga to have a BBQ with Joey and Ella! They had us come over and help prepare the food which took longer than expected (but now I know how to make awesome kabobs for everyone when I get home! So be excited.) Elder and Sister Plewe from the office came with one of their sons and grandsons who is going on a mission soon. I guess the son was a professor at BYU and wrote a book called 'Mapping Mormonism'. Joey looked it up on amazon and it is sold out and people are selling their copies for $400... but anyways it was really good dinner. We tried to share a lesson afterwards with Joey and Ella but after 8 min Joey got up and said that was enough for him and just left... after a few minutes we got back into the lesson with Ella and she was more interested than he was and understood what we were teaching. She was just hesitant to be committed and shy to pray but she knew that she could pray for happiness and pray to know if it is true. So it wasn't a total bust. AFter the BBQ we headed out to Burbank again by the Disney offices (yeah, we put a lot of miles on our car this week...) and tried by a referral that we had gotten. The husband Garnik answered the phone and wasn't too interested. Nicer than some. But still didn't let us in. It was overall a good day though. Frustrated that we were at Joey's for so long... definitely the longest lesson I've been at. Hopefully it was worth it all.
Sunday was a really good set of meetings. I translated for Sunday School which Mariam taught (I'm improving!). In relief society Elder Twelves was translating for Arousiak and kept interrupting her to allow those who had comments finish their thoughts (which I thought was rude) and then we both team translated for Sacrament where we had a high councilman speak about his conversion story and then Brother Bradley spoke briefly. It was really good. No investigators came :( after the meetings we practiced a musical number (Me, Bradley, Kristina, and Elders Twelves and Cook) that we will be singing on Easter or around then. Can't sing as high as I used to be. After we took Bradley over to visit Aylin and Zhorants who we caught before they were about to head out for the day and we taught a short 10 min lesson on the Book of Mormon which I thought was really good and what they needed to hear and then left. We headed up to the Cabrinis one last time and got stopped by a security officer who was threatening to arrest us if we were just aimlessly knocking doors. Thankfully we had some people's names who we were trying to visit. We headed up to the Turley's for a delicious meat and potato dinner and home made strawberry pie. Noms. Since we were in the area we tried by both Memek and Raffi who we saw last Sunday but they both weren't available. We tried by one last referral we had gotten in the Glenoaks corridor and ran into this guy who was telling us there wasn't a reason to be happy just because we were on God's errand because of all the wars he had been in and had seen and that were going on. Kinda brushed him off and kept going. Masis Aghazarian wasn't home. Drove back home and then walked to Helga's where they fed us again and Christine got mad at Elder Twelves for not signing a journal that she had given him 9 months ago to sign... that put a downer on the night and made it kind of awkward for the duration. But we got to talk about General Conference which made us all excited. Super excited. Can't wait.
Well everyone, that was my week! I love you all very much and hope you have a wonderful upcoming week! Be safe and happy!