Friends and Fam,
Another great week in El Camino! We continue to see a multitude of blessings and miracles each and every day here. This week we found tons of new investigators. I say “new investigators,” but technically they’re not because they’d been taught by the Elders before us in our new area but since we’d never seen them before I like to think of them as such. First, there’s the Vera family. They’re pretty great. They’re made up of just a mom, dad, and little baby boy. Before us they had gone in and out of listening to the discussions from missionaries but hadn’t ever committed much because she was expecting the baby and didn’t have much time on her hands to let missionaries in. But now they’ve had the child for a few months things have settled down and they’re so ready to progress, especially the mother. We only met with them once this week but we taught the Restoration and at the end committed them both to baptism! We’re so excited for them. Tonight we’re planning to teach the Plan of Salvation and relate it to family to really reel em in for sure. And then we also met a man named Hugo. He lives alone in this kind of apartment house thing that’s in in the backyard basically of another family’s house. It’s kind of weird, but I guess that’s pretty common around here. His story is that he had met the Elders before us but didn’t really want to meet with them but something in his head told him they had something important to share, so he let them in for a couple of visits. Then the whole change of us taking over happened and we finally got to meet with him a few days ago. He is seriously awesome. He had tons of questions and was really impressed by our answers. He also asked how we came to know for ourselves that this church was true so we had an opportunity to bear our testimonies and the Spirit was so strong. All he kept saying was “wow…wow…wow” over and over every time we testified of something or expressed the feelings of our heart. Such a great lesson. He even asked us where our church was! Seriously, we didn’t have to ask him if he wanted to go, he asked us. Sadly he told us his car was getting fixed and he “didn’t want to be too much of a burden” for a member to come pick him up so he couldn’t come. But definitely next week! That’s how serious he is haha. He got really into it and wants to meet with us ASAP. But with our double-area we’re pretty much booked so it’s hard to schedule frequent visits.
That kind of leads into the next topic. Our church attendance is still really struggling. I think we’ve only had one investigator come to church this whole month. Talk about a struggle. And we’ve done probably everything we could: calls the night before and morning of, inviting throughout the week, offering rides from members, the works. But for the most part almost everyone works on Sundays so it’s difficult. We’ve been thinking about just showing up to people’s houses an hour before to make sure they can go haha. Whatever it takes. We’ve got one investigator that could really benefit from church attendance. Remember Emerson? He’s been turning into our golden investigator. His wife is a member that kind of went inactive, but mostly because he didn’t go with her. But he has a baptismal date and everything and is progressing mightily. He reads from the Book of Mormon every night! That’s seriously so huge. Without the Book of Mormon there wouldn’t ever be conversion. And when he read the testimony of the witnesses he even did his own research on the Internet because he was so interested! Of course we told him to be careful about stuff on the internet, but it was still a great sign. We’re hoping to visit the Los Angeles Temple Visitor’s Center sometime in the next couple weeks so that he can make the temple his goal after baptism. It’s going to be awesome. The only thing that’s holding him back at this point is of course that work prevents him from attending church almost every week. I think this week we might have to teach a Sabbath Day holy lesson and commit him to try to get Sundays off. We’ll see how it goes. And lastly a quick note: remember Octavio from last week? This week we committed him to baptism! That makes I think 5 people on a baptismal date as of this moment. They’re all a little sketch right now because no one is going to church, but I’ve got a great feeling moving forward about the growth of this area/s.
There were two small miracles that happened this week that I wanted to share.The first came from a visit we had with a less active woman named Rosenda. A few weeks earlier we had stumbled across her from a non-member referral that we had met on the street. She directed us to her apartment, and when we got talking to her she explained she was actually planning on going to church that week! We were all like “wait what??” because at that point we didn’t know she was a member yet haha. So fast forward about a week when we finally met with her. She still hadn’t been to church at that point. She basically confessed that she had been inactive for like 15 years and had always wanted to come back to church but never really made the time for it I suppose. Well she told us she knew when we showed up on her doorstep that right then and there she needed to get back to church now. She called it a “sign from God,” and all we did was show up! So that was really cool. For whatever reason we didn’t see her yesterday but we’ve got an appointment tonight we can find out why. And then the crowing jewel event of the week: a street contact we had last night. We were walking down the street to actually Emerson’s house to drop of a church DVD when we heard a guy yell out at us: “Are you gentlemen from the Church of God??” We whipped right around real quick and went over and talked to him. We explained that we weren’t from that church but would still love to share our message with him. He started to ask us a bunch of questions. I wish I could write how exactly it went but basically 99% of his beliefs were in exact accordance with the Church’s doctrine. Even stuff like existing as spirits before we came to the earth and that we were all brothers and sisters there! It was like he was the one teaching us lesson 2! And he told us that since he had just stopped going to his church (the Church of God or something like that) he believed that God had sent us to be in his path to show him the right way. We were like “yeah pretty much” haha and had a fantastic lesson on the First Vision and the Book of Mormon in addition to a few things in the Plan of Salvation. And after we wrapped up we asked him if he knew anyone else that might want to listen to our message, and usually when we do this they just say “oh no, I don’t know any of my neighbors” but he was like “oh yeah, maybe my mom…I’ll bring her next week”. So he was literally the best contact I’ve ever had. His name is Ricardo and we’re going to talk to him tomorrow.
This week there was also lots of excitement around iPads because supposedly there was a rumor going around that we were going to get them this week, but an email from the President squashed all hopes and dreams of iPads haha. Turns out we were actually scheduled to get them, but something in the Missionary Department changed so distribution got pushed back until April. Apparently for the past 6 or so months all the missionaries had been told “oh yeah we should be getting them next month” and it still hasn’t happened yet. So now it’s April! Everyone’s lost hope by now though haha. But I like something President Hall wrote us in his weekly email to us:
“I know some of you may be disappointed, but don’t worry – the work will go on! The technology of Nephi’s steel bow did not save their family, but faith, heed and diligence in following the Liahona did. IPads will not exalt these two wonderful valleys, but following the counsel of our Heavenly Father found in the scriptures and the words of the modern prophets found in Preach My Gospel will!! Faith will move the mountains, not iPads! What a wonderful opportunity to focus on the basics and not get distracted by shiny things. When the iPads come, we will be ready. But for now, every valley shall be exalted!!”.
I think that kind of attitude is awesome. It’s not the iPads that preach the gospel, it’s just a medium in which to do it. A super great and effective medium nevertheless, but we’ll get them eventually. The best thing we can do for now is focus on the work and do it with what we’ve got (which isn’t so bad after all).
Here’s this week’s Bednar question of the week: “When are we totally cleansed from sin?” Answer: He answered first by defining what exactly sin and repentance are. He defined sin as a turn towards ones self, in that when we sin it is always for a selfish reason. Repentance is turning ones self back out to God, to overcome selfish feelings and do what’s right. So when in our daily actions if we are always helping others or thinking of others then we have cleansed our self from sin. He also talked about a second part. Since the Holy Ghost “dwelleth not in holy temples,” when we can feel the return of the Spirit in our lives we are clean.
That was my week! This email feels longer than usual even though nothing much out of the ordinary happened. Who knows. I hope everyone has a great week this week also. I’m so fortunate to be out here on my mission! I wish everyone else could feel the same joy I do each day. Have a good week!