El Camino Real Week 1

First week in the mish (For real this time)! It feels so great to finally be able to say that. It’s been so amazing out here in California. As always, so much to say, so little time. I first wanted to finish the crazy adventure in San Francisco. Because don’t you worry, Tuesday morning was just the beginning. So the day was fun a great and all that. After we got to the hotel we kind of toured around a little bit (while proselyting of course). I forgot to bring my camera before we left and I’m kind of mad at myself. We visited Pier 29 (I think) and got some food, checked out the sea lion dock (which was awesome), and walked a little along the bay. It was pretty foggy and rainy out, which I hear is pretty normal in San Fran. It was a great night, minus the fact that our cab driver was late every time he came to pick us up haha. The next morning we got up early to catch our flight and the fun began, once again… It started off great because once we got to the airport we were told one of our flights was cancelled…again. The only way the mission office could get us to the Burbank airport was to split us up into 2 groups: 14 on an 8:00an flight and 3 on a 11:00 flight. Only problem was that the 11:00 flight was cancelled. I had been assigned the 8:00 flight so while I was trying to check on my bags and all that I was also calling the mission travel office to figure out what to do with the other 3 and it was basically Tuesday all over again. What a nightmare haha. The lady on the phone was taking too long so I had to pass off the phone to one of the Elders waiting, gave them all a hug, and all I could do was say a little prayer for them. And then later about 5 minutes before we were to board the plane one of the Hermanas in my group realized she had dropped her envelope with all her money in it! Like almost $200, and she hadn’t brought a card. I was all like “are you serious??” so she ran off to find it while I tried my best to stall. But once again, the Lord provided for all of us. Literally seconds before they boarded the last passenger she came running back with her companion, found a security guard with all the money (!!!!), and we all made it onto the plane safely. I was really worried about the other group of missionaries for a while, but when we got to Burbank President Hall was waiting for us and he told us they had found a flight and were going to be okay. Whew. So everyone, if you’re ever in a time of stress or uncertainty, bow your head and say a prayer! Heavenly Father loves you too much to ignore you.

So that was the morning of Wednesday. After we got to the Burbank airport, like I said President Hall was waiting for us with his assistants. He gave us all a warm welcome, I got a much needed hug lol, and then we all gathered together and headed straight to the church building where transfer meeting was going to be held. As we travelled, we basically went through the whole mission. It’s pretty much barely and hour long top to bottom by car. But everything is so beautiful here. Since we’re in the middle of a valley there’s lots of trees and green pretty much everywhere. Very nice area scenery wise. We got there, did some paperwork stuff, had lunch, and did a quick interview before the transfer meeting started. So that’s where I got my first companion and my first area! The subject line gives it away, but I’m serving in the El Camino Real ward in Canoga Park, CA. My companion’s name is Elder Varela! He’s so awesome. He’s from Costa Rica and is a fluent, native Spanish speaker. Luckily he knows English too, but he actually didn’t know how to speak at all before he entered the MTC. We’re basically at opposite spectrums on the Spanish/English language scale. He’s a native Spanish speaker learning English and can speak pretty decently, and I’m the exact opposite. If I remember right he’s been out about 18 months and it’s his first time training. So we’re both learning! We’ve only been together a little less than a week but I can already tell he’s a fantastic missionary. He sometimes says things in English that sound really funny, but I guess I’m the same way with Spanish lol. I’ll include a picture of us together.

After transfer meeting, we got straight to work! Of course. We took a quick trip to our apartment to drop off our stuff, made a short shopping trip, then headed straight to an appointment. My head was still kind of all up in the clouds so I was all like alrighty then! Luckily it was only a little dinner appointment with a part member family.It was a little nerve-wracking because for whatever reason my brain had decided to forget every single ounce of Spanish I had learned so I mostly just sat there, nodded, and said “sí” or “muy bien” every once in a while haha. But it was great. After that we went out a street contacted which was fun/terrifying. I’ll get used to it I suppose. With Christmas coming up we’ve been really pushing the “He is the Gift” video and we hand out a pass-along card with a link to it almost every time we meet someone.

I wish I had all day to talk about all our investigators but sadly that isn’t possible. Essentially what I’ve started to notice is that we really try to focus on part member families/less actives. And that’s pretty much everyone here haha. Church attendance is pretty hit and miss which is unfortunate. I’m already starting to come up with new ideas to get people to come to church! Feel free to shoot me an email if you have any ideas as well. That’s pretty much the only thing that’s holding back this area. Everyone either has work on Sundays, or visits non-member family, or simply doesn’t want to get up in the morning (we have 9:00 church haha).

I did actually want to talk about one visit we had. It was with an investigator named Emerson. His wife is kind of sort of a less active, but she only doesn’t ever come because she wants to be with her husband on Sundays. He is pretty great. Basically he told us his philosophy on religion/the purpose of life is to wait and see until it comes to him eventually. I was all like perfect! We can bring it to you right now! We taught the first half of the Plan of Salvation and he thought it was interesting. At the end, I committed him to baptism! It was so exhilarating. Did i mention it was also my very first legit sit down lesson with someone. And after, Elder Varela told me he was really surprised he said yes! Missionaries had been meeting with them every once in a while and he had never said he wanted to be baptized. But he also never said no! So that was my highlight of the week. Sometimes I guess all you have to do is ask and it gets them thinking. We also got to do a session in the LA temple because one of Elder Varela’s recent converts was receiving her endowments. That temple was so beautiful. Very old style, but still great. The session was in Spanish, so I had my English translation headset in one ear while I tried to understand the Spanish with the other lol. But it was great.

Some quick other things: our ward mission leader and bishop are both really cool. The WML is named Moroni and he actually served his mission in this same area. He’s from the Dominican Republic and is way funny. At least he thinks so haha. And then our Bishop is Bishop Alfreda. He’s a convert of only about 13 years. They both really stress missionary work and think it’s really important. I think the mission success will benefit because of it. Sometimes all you need is a positive attitude about things!

We also had a little new missionary training session on Friday with President Hall. He stress the importance of “leaving your nets” like the Savior asked his apostles to do after His Resurrection. “Lovest thou me?…Feed my sheep”. I’m trying my best to live up to that calling. President Hall also shared an awesome conversion story in the scriptures I had never heard of: the conversion of Cornelius by Peter. Go and read it, Acts 10 and 11. It touches on the importance of the Spirit in conversion and also simply finding people. The Lord is currently preparing people to receive our message, we just have to find them! If we can rely on the promptings of the Spirit we can bring them unto Christ to give them eternal life.

Here’s my Bednar minute of the week. It’s a pretty simple one: Explain the age change for missionary work? His response was quite interesting. Answer: essentially, we were “catching up” if you will to the rest of the world. It turns out that in pretty much everywhere but the US missionaries were going out at 18 because of universality acceptance policies. If they left at 19 while attending school they would lose that acceptance and have to reapply after they got back. So what he stressed is that “the Lord works line upon line, precept upon precept.” Almost never all at once! Essentially, experimentation. So I thought that was cool.

It’s Christmas this week! Hope everyone has an enjoyable holiday. Be safe, have fun. We’re going to have a blast over here! Essentially open presents in the morning and have a normal missionary day haha. But that is a pretty great way to spend Christmas if I say so myself.

¡Feliz Navidad!

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