Saturday, October 29, 2011
I hope you are all doing well.
I have been transferred to the city of Carlsbad, Carlsbad 3rd ward. Now I can actually say I served in Carlsbad in the Carlsbad mission! My new ward has great members who are very good missionaries, and we live a ten-minute jog from the ocean. We jog or bike there almost every morning for exercise (don't worry, we don't go on the sand or in the water). My ward also has Legoland in it. A member is getting us free passes to Legoland, so that will be fun!
My companion is Elder Herald, from Allen, TX. He just got finished being trained by Elder Bailey (yes, I just replaced one of my former companions!). It's been nice, because Elder Herald tells ward members that I trained Elder Bailey, so I am instantly trusted. Elder Herald was also Elder Bowen's (my last companion) MTC companion. So, that's a fun net of connections there. On Thursday morning, we had just left our apartment for the day, and Elder Herald got bombed by a bird right on his head. It was hilarious! We went back and he took a good long shower!
As I said last week, I'm the new district leader here too. In the district are: Elder Herald-Allen TX, me, Elder Wheeler-Grauss, ID, Elder Nash-Sandy UT, Elder Stubbs-Kemmerer, WY, Elder Findlay-Snowflake AZ, Sister Ellis-I forgot where, Sister Hermanson- St. George, UT, Sister Gilmore-North Salt Lake, UT. Elder Gale is one of the zone leaders too. It's a fun district!
We have a lot of members and part-member families in the teaching pool. We have the  family, who are less-active members with a non-member husband. Their names are Al, Joanne, and their son Chris and his girlfriend Ambria. They recently lost of their sons, Ian, and that is what is driving them to come back to church. They are a really good family. Also we have Scott , a less-active 28-year old guy who is trying to come back to church. He doesn't want to go to the YSA ward, so we're meeting with him. You can tell by his speech that he's from California. Commonly uses words like "totally, sweet, solid, etc." I'm pleased to say I can speak fluent Californian! Also we have Ric and Anya , who are recent converts. Ric is almost done with his USMC career, and is very excited for that. He's a fun guy and loves telling stories. Anya was a champion tennis player back in Ukraine. Her name may or may not be on ESPN.com somewhere. She retired from professional tennis, but is still teaching tennis lessons as a full-time job.
There are a lot of U of U fans in the ward. One or two of the men here played football at the U. The bishop is a very missionary-minded bishop and is really great to work with. We are good friends with the Rosell family. Bro Rosell is a former stake president and is currently the favorite seminary teacher. He is hilarious. Sister Rosell cuts the missionaries' hair and feeds us a ton. Their next-door neighbor is Brother Waddell. He is Elder W Christopher Waddell (first quorum of Seventy)'s father, and also the father of another Brother Waddell that was in my ward in MIra Mesa. I'm bound to meet Elder Waddell at some point, since I've already met two in his family!
Everything is going well in Carlsbad. I hope you all have a great week.
Elder Jon La Follette
PS- late April-early Oct pictures soon!
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
It rained last Wednesday pretty hard all day. We had to pull out our raincoats (I've only done that 6 or 7 times on my mission) and ended up changing our pants 3 times because we got so drenched! Needless to say, the streets were completely empty. People hate rain here! I will admit, for the first time on my entire mission, I crashed on my bike that day. It was before it was pouring, so we were out riding, without raincoats or anything. We were riding down a long steep hill, and I got a feeling at the top "You're going to crash at the bottom, just so you know." I thought "nah.. I'll go slow and I'll be fine." I did go slow, but at the bottom, we turned onto another street, which required going over a section of slick wet concrete, and my bike slipped out from under me and I did a full body plant on the ground. Luckily my bike was almost perfectly fine. The only thing that broke was my little bell (yeah, it's cute) but I can fix that easily. I didn't feel the least bit of pain, which was interesting. The only damage was a very dirty shirt, no pride left, and a good-sized hole in my brand new slacks Mom just sent. We'll see if that can be fixed! There was a car with people that saw the whole thing. They stared for a minute, then drove on. California! My companion didn't see it, thank goodness! He was well behind me because he's scared to ever go fast.
I only have 5 minutes left so the rest of this will be short.
We had a lesson with Mary  last week. She is still concerned about having to be baptized again, because she thought her Baptist preacher had authority. But, the good news is that she knows that all she has to do is read the Book of Mormon and ask with a sincere heart and real intent if it's true. I know for sure that she'll get an answer, and she will be fine.
Last week we went to the library to make mormon.org profiles, as President Cook directed. While there, a kid sitting next to Elder Bowen asked him to tell him about the Church. Elder Bowen started to, and the lady next to me told them to be quiet and do it somewhere else. So, Elder Bowen started to get his info and do it later. A few minutes later, the lady stood up and started to walk away. She turned back and pointed at the kid and said "You better find out the TRUTH!!" "What is the truth?" "ONLY GOD KNOWS THAT ANSWER!!! YOU BETTER FIND OUT!!!" and stormed out. Everyone within 40 feet was staring at the situation. It was really awkward. Then after the lady left, the kid turned to us and said "is that the anti-Christ?"
I am out of time, unfortunately. I had a couple more things to say. We had Stake Conference this weekend, with Elder Maynes of the sSeventy. It was remarkable. They are crazy with stake conference here. Ushers and everything
Eldre La Follette
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Hey family, I hope you all had a good week
My week was okay. We didn't teach very many lessons, but it was still a good week. We had a couple more people at church this week. Janet and her daughter Grace (aka Angel) came to church. Janet's fiance TJ (aka Carter) didn't show up, even though he promised he would. Janet was heavily thinking of joining the Jehovah's Witnesses church, but wanted to come to ours. She/they had a great time at church and the ward just jumped on them as soon as sacrament meeting was over. Some people are overwhelmed by that, but it was really good for Janet and Grace. We couldn't even talk to them for several minutes because there was literally a line of people waiting to meet them. Maybe it was because they don't see black people in church very much. We have a bunch of black investigators right now (TJ Janet and Grace, Julian, Leon, and Tony, and Mary Poe) so maybe we can get some more black members! They are doing very well, and we will meet with them again on Friday.
Ceyda and Lavena came to church again and loved it as usual. They are also getting a lot of friends in the ward. Tonight they're going to a Relief Society function, and hopefully they can go on Saturday to the RS broadcast.
We picked up another couple of guys last week as investigators, Joel and his friend Rudy. They are devout JWs and wanted to meet with us to talk about our religions. They are different than most JWs we run into, being that they are very civil and non-combative. I don't know how far we'll get to go with them, but at least they listen to us and our message. They did say no to a prayer after the lesson though.
That's about all for investigators updates right now. Everyone is doing well for the most part. If you have questions about anyone, let me know. I'm not sure what you might want to know about them.
Last Tuesday we had a district activity in our church building. The activities have been always the same-- basketball with the elders, and when the sisters arrive, we play a game called "signs". This week, one of the elders taught us all how to play rugby (he played rugby in SLC before his mission. Wants to play for the U of U). We are all really bad at it, but it was so fun. We did a scrum, which is the part where everyone interlinks arms, bends down, and fights for the ball. I don't have any pictures of it, but it was really, really fun.
Last Wednesday we were walking down a street at night next to a place called Boomers, which is similar to Trafalga. We walked towards the place, and we heard a bunch of girls singing Called to Serve as we got closer. As we walked up, they sang really loud and cheered. It was a young womens group from San Marcos that was doing their Mutual activity, and they were happy to see elders walking by.
On Friday Elder Bowen and I had Christmas, just for fun. I have a Glade Cinnamon spray (to combat Elder Bowen) so it smelled really good in our apartment, and then we made gingerbread cookies while we were doing our weekly planning, listened to Christmas music, and wore green and red ties. To make it better, it was overcast and very cool outside. I was hoping Santa would even come, but he didn't.
Sunday mornings I always play the organ in the chapel long before sacrament meeting starts, and one of the bishopric heard me play and now is trying to get us missionaries to do a musical number in sacrament meeting. I'm not sure if I want to! I'm not very very good, and the other elders sing...ahem..very well. I'll let you know if that happens.
Last night we had dinner at the Guymons house, with several other families in the ward joining us. Elder Barlow (one of the elders in our ward) was dared for $1 to eat a Jabanero (spelling?) pepper. He did it, and for the next 30 minutes had pink eyes, a snotty nose, and tears constantly rolling down his face. One of the kids was assigned to bring him soda and cornbread to counter the heat. He got his dollar!
I was told the good news about the Utes!!! GO UTES!!!!! There's a family in our ward, the McKeons, that have a son at U of U, and are now all Utah fans. Sister McKeon wore a Utah polo shirt to church even. They always update me on college football scores. Wish I could have seen the game! But it's okay, it'll happen next year too. I figured that Utah might have won (before I found out the score) because no one was wearing their blue BYU ties to church. Hehe
General Conference is coming up. I strongly encourage you (BoM terms--exhort!) all to think of someone you can invite to watch Conference with you, maybe just 1 session. It's really a great opportunity to hear the Apostles and prophet speak. Even those not of our faith know very quickly that they are men of God. I hope you will all invite someone to hear conference. Let me know how it goes!
Well that's all for this week. I hope you are all doing well. Have a great week!
Elder La Follette
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
The day after tomorrow is September. Man the year is going by quick!
I hope all of you in Northern Utah are alive after that storm! Sounds like it was another 4th of July. We've been getting a lot of hot and humid down here.
It hasn't been very eventful the past few days, since Thursday. Saturday my back was better in the morning. We helped a lady in her yard, and afterwards came back for a shower. Shortly after my shower I bent down and up wrong and my back popped again. So, I was laying on the ground all day with severe back pain. Sister Cook told me to lay on the ground for a few hours with ice under my back and taking medicine. Bro Voigtlander (ward mission leader) brought some ibuprofen for me since I was out of it, and it helped a lot! My back is doing better today. It has healed a lot.
Friday night we had a really good movie night. We only had about 25 people show up, but it was good. One of our invesgators, Andy , and his family showed up.
Sunday, Mary  came to church and had a great time. She said while she was talking to the members, she'd never had such a warm feeling and welcoming feeling in her life. It was really good for her. She participated a lot in class too. We will teach her tonight and hopefully she will accept a baptism date.
We met with Paul on Sunday with Bro Coleman. He has a baptism date for Oct 1, but we are probably going to drop him this week. He won't do anything but more importantly, he can never remember anything we teach him. On Sunday we taught him a lesson about the Restoration for a good while. At the end, the only thing he remembered learning was "I remember a.. uh.. uh a pillar? Pillar of light! But I like to think of the blue sky." and goes off talking about how animals should be treated better. Yeah... It's been like that, so we probably won't continue to teach him much longer.
We have another new investigator, his name is Julian. He is 22 from Florida and got recruited to play football for several universities (including UF). Instead, he joined the Marines. A few months ago he finished his 4 years in the Marines and now wants to get closer to God.
Well that's all the time I have and really all i wanted to say anyway. I hope you are all doing well!
Have a good week
Elder Jon La Follette
Thursday, August 25, 2011
Elder Bowen finally got a bike last Saturday from a lady we've been doing yard work for. It was a piece of junk but I fixed it up for him. He claimed he knows how to fix stuff really well but we eager to sit back and watch me do it. It's all good. I finally got his brakes fixed yesterday so we started riding bikes for the first time since he's been in the mission. I was really excited because I'm tired of walking all the time. We got about 10 min into the day, then I hit a bump and my bike tire went flat in about 3 seconds. We walked our bikes back to the apartment. En route, we talked to a lady that was walking by. We asked how her day was, and she said it was good, and asked how our day was. I said we were doing well, until my bike tire went flat and I showed her. She looked at it and said "Oh my. Well I hope it stays that way!" and walked off. It was a great start to the day!
On Tuesday Elder Gibbons of the 2nd Quorum of the Seventy came to our mission. We had 3 zones meet in Carlsbad for the conference I went to. I was asked to play piano by the APs a few days before. They had two songs picked out, one of which I could play. I asked if we could play a different one, and they asked if I could just learn it. I said I could, and they were happy. They also mentioned that President wanted it to be "General Authority perfect!" No pressure! I got it learned though, and it went okay.
The computer just asked me if I wanted 30 more minutes of time! Yay! I won't use it all though.
Elder Gibbons talked a lot about member missionary work with us, and how it is done. He first started with the doctrine of it and why members do missionary work. The First Presidency said that missionary work is centered in the ward, not in the missions. The bishop and stake presidents hold the priesthood keys to find investigators. The mission president holds the keys to teaching and baptizing investigators, and the missionaries primarily do the teaching. The missionaries will have their own efforts finding investigators, but the primary responsibility lies with the members of the Church. As a missionary, I have noticed how much more effective "member referrals" are than us tracting and talking to people on the street. In our mission, 63% of baptisms in the last year came from member referrals or part-member families. Only 11% came from tracting and 15% from street contacts. So "logically", missionaries will see results like this, and then spend most of their time knocking on doors and talking to people on the street. Really, missionary work should be focused more on the members of the Church. In our mission and other missions in the world, we are trying to start a major change and instead of focusing on finding people on our own, and then asking for a referral from members here and there (and 99% of the time, no one has a referral), we will focus on helping members in their missionary efforts. Elder Gibbons asked us to not ask for referrals at dinner anymore, but rather to focus our conversation on helping the members in their efforts. We'll see how this goes! President Cook and really all of us feel really strongly that this is the right thing to do. President Hinckley said something to the effect of "many look at missionary work as simply tracting. Those who are familiar with this work know that there is a much better way, and that way is through the members of the Church." If we are to do the Lord's work, we need to join together the Missionary Church and the Member Church and make it the Church of Jesus Christ. Elder Gibbons said that members need to realize that 1- Missionary work is NOT hard 2- Missionary work is NOT complicated and 3- You will NOT lose your friends in inviting them. It was a really good zone conference. I wish I had time to tell you all I learned from Elder and Sister Gibbons and President and Sister Cook, but I don't have time. But that was the biggest thing he talked about.
We had a really powerful lesson with Ceyda on Tuesday night. She had an experience where she clearly heard the voice of the Holy Ghost telling her something she needed to know. She said for sure she wants to be baptized into the Church. When she talked to West, she asked him if it was really important to him that they get baptized together. Otherwise, she'd go for it right now. West said it was definitely important to him and that they should wait. He said "I was the one who got you into it in the first place!" It was pretty funny. West and Ceyda are looking at February for baptism, since he'll have a 2- week leave from his deployment. I hope I will be in a place that I can go to it. They are probably my favorite investigators of my whole mission, maybe combined with Patrick from Mira Mesa. I've felt a really strong connection with both of them. They have grown so much since I first went over with Elder Farley. Ceyda told us that every time they go to church on Sunday (Saturday for West in Afghanistan) they will talk to each other for a good length of time about the things they each learned in church. They are so cool!
Sister Poe wasn't able to make it to church this week. Her daughter from Chula Vista (about two hours south of Vista) was going to pick her up to take her to see her grandaughter in Juvy, and that was during church. Sister Poe's daughter never showed up, so she called her later and was mad at her for not showing up, and that she had to miss church for nothing. She is planning to go this Sunday.
There is a young couple in the ward we're working with, Amanda and Mario . They have been working with their neighbors Jerica and Junior, and next week we should begin to teach them. We had a BBQ at the  on Sunday that they went to and had a great time! Junior is a BUFF Tongan. He laughed when I called him Junior Seau. He used to play linebacker. I would NOT want to get hit by him.
About a month ago I had an idea of having a movie night with the ward at the church. The ward liked the idea, and tomorrow night we're having the Missionary Movie Night. The ward is excited, and a lot of people are bringing their friends, and some of our investigators are going to come. We're going to play Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration. It's the really good Joseph Smith movie that played at Legacy Theater in Salt Lake for a long time. Elder Child gave me a copy of it last November so we're going to watch it. We're going to have popcorn and pink lemonade, and people are going to come in PJs and bring blankets and beanbags and such. Pretty much like the Timpview Pillow Concert but for a movie. It's going to be awesome!
Well I've ended up taking a lot longer than I thought! Good thing I got extra time today. Sounds like football season is going to start soon. Go UTES!!! It won't be a big distraction here, because no one cares about college football in San Diego, since San Diego State hasn't been good for a while and they're in a dumb conference now. Sunday nights are always funny because the streets are lined house after house with a bunch of guys in every garage sitting on a couch watching the Chargers games together and holding beers. We've learned that generally guys aren't interested when the Chargers are on. I wouldn't be either though, if my team was playing!
I hope you all have a great week! I love you all
Elder Jon La Follette
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
It's been a good week this week. Things are looking up. We finally found a new investigator on Sunday, and then another one last night. Sunday was a man named TJ. Older black gentleman from Rochester, NY (ha!). He has spent much of his adult life (now in his 60s) trying to find a church that fits what he reads in the Bible. So far he has found that the Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, and 7th Day Adventists are the closest. He said the Mormons are probably the religion that follows the Bible most closely, including building temples and "the order of Melchizedek." He is very religiously smart and so far is fascinated with the LDS Church, especially the principle of the pre-mortal world. He will be a very interesting person to teach!
Last Saturday I was on an exchange with Elder Davis, one of the zone leaders (not related, as far as we can tell). Among all the people we talked to was an older black lady in her 70s, name Mary Poe. She grew up Lutheran and Baptist and loves the Lord. We taught her last night for the first time and got to know her better and gave her a Book of Mormon. We arranged to get her a ride to church on Sunday and she is very excited. She told us that last week, she was on her knees praying in her room that somehow she could go back to church, since she hadn't been in the 5 years she's lived here. Her back hurts too much to walk to the church down the road. Just a few days later we found her on the street and she was happy to let us come by. She was very happy to accept the invitation to come to church with us.
Fonzie Vavao got baptized this last Wednesday! I didn't tell y'all because he called me after I was done emailing and asked me to come to the baptism and baptize him. I was definitely happy to, and the baptism was held last Wednesday. It was in the 10th ward, the ward to our east. Other than their ward mission leader, and a counselor in the bishopric, there was only one family that came to the baptism (beside Fonzie's). The Riddles decided to come, so I got a chance to see them for the first time since last spring when I came to Vista! Karisa, her brother Joe, and their dad (Uncle Craig) were there and after the baptism I got a bunch of time to talk to them. It was good to see them again! Their good friends in the 3rd ward, the Isas, feed us sometimes, so they said the next time we eat at the Isas, they would come too. I'm so happy for Fonzie! It was really cool too see him and his family again, and be able to be there for his baptism. He will be a solid member of the church.
We had a meeting last Thursday for all the trainers and their companions that were in their first 6 weeks, so we went. There is a new program introduced by the Church that sets up a curriculum for trainers to teach their new companions by the time their first 12 weeks are over in the mission. In the packets we got, it said the goal is to prepare our companions so well, that by the end of their first 12 weeks in the field, they will be ready to successfully train a new missionary! Elder Bowen is making some good strides and learning a lot about the work. He has a good drive when we're out working and loves the work. He still smells but he's a nice kid.
Next Tuesday we have another General Authority coming to our mission. Elder Gibbons of the 2nd quorum of the Seventy is coming to visit and teach us. Because he's coming to our area of the mission on Tuesday, our PDay will be on Thursday next week instead of Tuesday. The next week it'll go back to normal.
I hope you are all doing well! I appreciate your love and support. Have a great week everyone
Elder Jon La Follette