Tuesday, August 7, 2012

7 August 2012 (Last mission email!!!)

Hello family!
I hope you've all had a great week.
We've had a good week here.  I don't remember a lot of what happened because I don't have my planner here with me today.  But what was cool is I was able to keep my going home a secret until Sunday at church, and even then, a lot people thought I was just getting transferred.  That was very helpful to keep me focused on my work until the end.  I only have a couple more hours in this area, then I'll be on the "final 24 hours" of my mission that I don't have an area or zone to think about.
We did have a good lesson with Claire.  She has come a long way in the past few weeks.  She is growing in faith and is really enjoying the church.  She got up to bear her testimony in church yesterday and said things to the effect of "being here has realized that I can be religious and still have a cool life!...in the past month, you have shattered all the previous notions I had about Mormons (everyone laughed at that).... I feel that the things you guys do and that I'm starting to do is the right thing.  It feels right to me..."  It was awesome!  She's come to so many activites and is hanging out with lots of different members during the week.  I'm sure she'll be baptized in a month or two.
We also picked up another YSA investigator, Grisella, yesterday that actually lives in our area.  She is very ready for the gospel and will be easy to teach.  She has been taught by the Las Flores ward elders for a bit, until we had a "pass-off" lesson with all 4 of us yesterday.
Shari [edit] came to church again yesterday.  She's made lots of progress in her life.  She and Oscar, her husband, have come closer together too, as a result of the Spirit that Shari is feeling stronger in her life.  Oscar is making small steps to the church as well.  He is not a member.  One of his co-workers in the Anaheim Police Dept is getting baptized this Saturday in the Las Flores ward.  We're very excited!
I can't remember much else... Oh, the Chambers had to put one of their dogs down yesterday.  We think she had a stroke or something recently and has been getting progressively more lethargic and removed the past week, and we knew something bad was up.  Brother Chambers and I carried her out to the car to go to the vet, where they put her down.  We were all sad.  But Sister Chambers said Shelby (the dog) was very peaceful and could tell she was ready to go.  So, it wasn't very painful.
What else... I can't remember much more from the week.  Oh, my district sang happy birthday to me last week and got me a birthday present--an Angels pennant, and an Albert Pujols Angels bag.  That was pretty cool!
That's about it.  I'm in my last few hours in Mission Viejo, which is a weird feeling.  It's crazy to think it's already been almost 6 months since I got here.  We'll go to Vista for the transfer meeting, then I'll go to the mission home tonight with the other departing missionaries.  In the morning we'll go to the San Diego temple, the Mormon Battalion visitors center, then to the airport.  It's weird to think that I've reached this point.  I am very sad to leave my mission.  I'm made many, many friends and many memories.  I am also ready to come home.  I feel comfortable with the effort I've put into my mission.  I've laid it all out on the table and given everything I have.  I haven't been perfect by any means, but I gave what I could.  I still have a day to go!
I hope you all have a great day!
See some of y'all tomorrow
Elder Jonathan La Follette

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

31 July 2012 (21st birthday!)

Hello family!
Thanks for the birthday wishes!  It's been a good birthday so far.
We've had a busy week this week!
I'll start with the biggest highlight, which was a surprise.  Tuesday afternoon I got a call from Elder Rupp (Vista zone leader) telling me that Ceyda [edit] (remember them?) was getting baptized on Thursday and had requested me to baptize her.  Normally I wouldn't have gotten permission because Mission Viejo is so far from Vista, but President Cook gave me permission as long as I kept it quiet!  We had a meeting with the stake presidency and others the same night an hour after the baptism started, so I went with Jordan [edit] down to Vista while Elder Mason was on splits with 2 other people for dinner, Claire's lesson, and the beginning of the meeting.  I was very grateful for the chance I had to see West (he just got back from Afghanistan a week and a half ago) and Ceyda again!  They are like family to me, and it was great to see them.  I also remembered all the members' names that came to the baptism too, which was nice!  The baptism was perfect on the first time and the Spirit came in so strongly.  Ceyda has been going to church ever since Elder Farley and I started teaching her and West, and now got the chance to be baptized.  Afterwards, I had to leave quickly to get back to Mission Viejo for the stake meeting, but I gave my contact info to them and gave them one of my nametags to keep.  They were very thankful for everything and promised to keep in touch.  That was a great blessing to be able to participate in that!
As for other things this week, as I mentioned, we had the stake meeting, which went very well.  The stake trusts all of the missionaries very much and is very grateful for all of our efforts.  We set some goals together to improve and to be able to accomplish our goals for 2012.
On Friday we had zone leader council in Vista.  The biggest topic discussed was the doctrine of invitations and commitments, which we will be training our zone on tomorrow in a zone training meeting.  At the end, President had me, Elder Porter, and Elder Price stand up to bear our testimonies, since we are the ones leaving before next zone leader council.  It was weird to be one of the ones standing to bear testimony!  Elder Porter came out with me, and Elder Price came out 6 weeks later, but is going home 6 weeks early for school.
On Wednesday we were in the Promenade apartment complex, which we go in a lot to find people.  One of the workers came up to us (he had bashed with me and Elder Rupp months before) and started to question us and tried to kick us out.  Without going into many details for the sake of time, he accused us several times of being liars, harrassing him, trespassing, harrassing the residents, got very angry, and multiple times pulled out his phone to call the police.  Most of this conversation we were standing quietly listening to him yell at us, answering his occasional questions honestly, few of which he believed.  Elder Mason was bold enough to pull the religious persecution card on him, which made him get very defensive, and then he radioed the front desk.  He told his boss "the LDS missionaries are here going door to door (false) without appointments...yada yada"  The reply was "uhh, that's fine."  He said "alright, that's all I needed to hear" and stormed off to his golf cart while we continued talking to people in the complex.  About 15 minutes later, another employee, who had known nothing about the encounter, drove by on his golf cart, waving and yelled "See you tomorrow amigos!"  It was priceless.
Friday after zone leader council I had a companion exchange with Elder McCary, which Elder Mason went with his greenie companion, Elder Bradley (who is a fantistic missionary for being 6 weeks out!).  Elder McCary is a former zone leader and is just great, so we just worked hard on the exchange without me having to worry about correcting or evaluatng him much.  We had a great lesson with their investigator's mom, Angie (who has made a 180 degree turn lately with regards to investigating the church!), and found a few more potential investigators for them, the first time in a while.  The next morning we were about to study, and got a call to help a family move, so we changed back into service clothes.  After the move, we changed into proselyting clothes for the morning, then after lunch found a couple of ladies that also needed help moving within the apartment complex.  So we changed back into service clothes and wheeled their baby's cradle from their first story apartment across the complex to a third-story apartment.  Also shouldered cases of water and several other things.  It was a good workout!  The two ladies told us that they had been moving since 3am that morning and were physically exhausted.  They prayed that God would strengthen them to finish the job, then about 2 minutes later, we came by to offer help.  There are few feelings better than to be an answer to someone else's prayer.
What else.... Yesterday throughout the day I texted 100 different people, most of which were potential investigators we didn't know.  From that we got a lesson set up for tonight, which will be the first new investigator in our ward in several weeks!  We're very excited!  Her name is Jasmine, and will bring her boyfriend, whose family is LDS (don't know if he is or not).  It should be a great lesson.  Claire came to church again this week too, and had a great time.  She's making slow but steady progress and really likes the church.
That's about all for now that I have time to tell you about.  Elder Mason is getting bored so I better go.
I hope y'all have a great week!  Take care
Elder La Follette

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

17 July 2012

Hello family!  I hope you're all having a great week!
On the way to the library I had a major brain blank and I'm having a hard time remembering what all happened this week.  I'll tell you what I do remember.
On Thursday we had a leadership training meeting down in Vista.  Invited were all the zone leaders, district leaders, and "important" sister missionaries.  I don't know how else to describe the sisters.  Several things were discussed, including how to have more effective and efficient weekly planning sessions (they take a few hours every week), accountability between each other (President Cook had me do a role play with him for a Sunday-night call in and report for the week), and accountability through key indicators (numbers).  It was a good meeting with lots of things learned for everyone.  There were 5 of us elders and 2 sisters from our zone that went, so we grabbed the minivan that the Ladera Ranch elders use and I drove everyone down to the meeting!  It was weird to drive a van!  A couple weeks ago on exchanges with Elder Neil, one of the assistants, he had me drive their Chevy Silverado, which was awesome!  It made our Fusion feel small, which it really isn't that small.  Anyway.. On the way back we got some mail for our zone.  I got more mail then than the last 6 months combined! (which is okay, don't worry.  It doesn't matter very much at this point).  I got a birthday card from the Cooks, an info letter from the office (zone leader stuff), a mass letter from a sister in my MTC district to all the elders, and a letter from Elder Bailey.  Apparently Brother Vigil, one of my favorite members from Carlsbad, passed away recently.  That was pretty sad to hear.  It's okay though, he is with his wife now, and is probably herding all the goats he wants to! (that was the heaven he imagined!)
What else...We taught a new investigator in the singles ward on Sunday named Claire.  She met a member about 4 weeks ago and he invited her to church, and she has now been 3 times, and is liking the Church so far.  We're starting on the basics for her.  She grew up semi-Christian, lost a belief in God, and now is starting to believe in a higher being again.  She's had several what she calls "God moments" where she feels something (the Spirit) very strongly that it makes her want to cry.  She told us that in her few times at church, that we were "shattering all the stereotypes" that the general population think of.  She told us she was there just to listen to us, and we kinda stared for a moment and said "well we're not here to lecture to you a presentation of our religion!"  She got really excited and said "you guys are SO much better than everyone makes you out to be!"  All her previous understanding of Mormons came from South Park (many people say that).
On Sunday we had a cool sacrament meeting in the YSA ward.  Elder Haynie, the area seventy (the Esco stake president when I was there) came to speak, along with his secretary, the stake presidents from Mission Viejo and Rancho Santa Margarita stakes, and President and Sister Cook (the Cooks went to the previous sacrament meeting and weren't going to stay for ours, but we convinced them to stay.  Naturally, they were invited to speak too!)  I took good notes on what was said.  The highlight was Elder Haynie talking about how the temple is what is going to hold us members  to the Gospel in these days when many things will not.  He promised if we attend the temple regularly, we will not step far from the path before the Spirit brings us back.
We had FHE with Jason and Ashley last night. They're making some good steps lately.  For our activity, Jason had us all write a card to his cousin who is a year into his mission in Indonesia.  They hadn't written him yet, and only saw him on Skype once.  It was interesting writing someone I had never met!  But it was a good experience anyway.  Their little boy Malakai was a spaz, a little more than usual.  Ashley made us some of her famous peach cobbler!  It was so yummy!  The last time I had peach cobbler was when she made it for us in Vista.
That's about it for now.  We've been having a bunch of small experiences but no big highlights.  I've been doing a lot better keeping my journal lately so if I forgot anything I'll tell you later!
I hope you all have a great week
Elder La Follette

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

10 July 2012

Hello family!
I hope you've all had a great week.  We had a good week here.
We've had 2 good lessons with Patrick this week, but we'll have to pass him off to a family ward in Foothill Ranch this week because he's only 17.  Mason and his cousins have been doing a great job in missionary work! 
Shari [edit] came to church this week!!!  She didn't make it for sacrament, but came for the last half of Sunday school and then to Relief Society.  Sis Chambers said she looked happy and participated in RS.  We are so glad!  Shari said she had a good time.  It was her first time back to church in Mission Viejo in several years.
We had a lesson with Anthony [edit] on Friday.  He said he's going to move his goal up to quit smoking on July 5 instead of July 16.  The first thing he said when we came in was "I'm sick of smoking.  Last night I had my last cigarette and I'm done now."  He knows it's going to be really rough for the next little while but he's willing to use his agency and get it done!  We also finally met with Josh [edit], who is a fairly recently-returned member.  He's a pretty funny guy.  Probably going to play football at the U of U next year.  He's been recruited a lot by the coaches.  We taught the restoration and talked about modern day prophets.  He's going to invite his friend Chris to the next lesson.
July 4th was a weird day.  We started with district meeting in Ladera Ranch.  Elder Satuala had me trip through the national anthem on the piano even though I couldn't play it very well.  I was happy to see more American flags out in the streets compared to Vista last year, but still wasn't like Utah will all the Scout flags everywhere!  (There is a lady pacing quickly back and forth behind me, it's really weird)  All of our lessons cancelled and it was useless to tract, so we stopped by a couple member families before they went to the beach, and tried to talk to other people barbequing and such.  At night, Ladera Ranch had some concert going on, but for the most part, it was quiet around town.  At dark, most cities around had a firework show, but we didn't have a good view of any shows.  I got what I could on camera, but it wasn't great.  When we got into bed, Elder Mason pulled out some patriotic poems that he has like the Midnight Ride of Paul Revere and others, and read them.  Then we looked at different scriptures that talk about America or the Constitution.  It was a good Independence Day!
I played organ in church again this week.  That'll probably be the last week I do it.  We'll see, I guess.  I've already used both sacrament hymns I know twice each.
I went on an exchange with Elder McLelland (Ogden) yesterday.  He was in my district in Vista and is a very excited and enthusiastic person.  We had a lot of fun.  We tried by a former investigator, who showed us his decades-old corvette that he has restored.  After showing us everything, we taught him a short version of the Restoration using the analogy of restoring a car with all of its engine parts, oil, car parts, and everything that goes with that.  It was a really cool analogy.  He wasn't interested though.
That's about it for this week.  I hope y'all have a great week.  If you have any questions for me, let me know
Elder La Follette

Thursday, July 5, 2012

3 July 2012

Hello family!
I hope you're all having a good week!  I've heard more 4th of July talk on the emails than I have in the past 2 weeks combined down here!  It's just not a big deal down here, which is sad.  I hope you have a happy and safe 4th.  Don't cause any more fires in Utah!  I hope y'all get to breathe soon.
We had a bunch of things happen this week.  We were busy!  I'll try to mention the better highlights.
These are in no particular chronological order.
We got a referral from Elder Zarate (my MTC companion) and his companion for a couple of guys.  One of them had an appointment set up and we found out later they wanted to meet us at the RSM Calvary Chapel.  Reluctantly, we went to the church and had a lesson there with them.  One's name was James and the other was Christian.  I had met Christian a few months ago on Saddleback college's campus and had a lengthy discussion with him.  They were nice, but difficult to keep on topic.  They didn't bash or argue, but asked lots of questions and of course disputed some points.  The unique thing they did that most born-agains don't is that Christian came with a triple combination and read some references in the BoM and D&C.  They interpreted some verses wrong but at least they tried to read our own books.  We weren't going to set up a return appointment unless they asked, which they did, so we'll meet with them again next week at our church.
There were a bunch of families that moved this week, including the Allans (our ward mission leader), the Lippards, and a couple other families.  It took a few people out of the ward council, and Sister Moorhead, the RSP, is without counselors. She felt pretty overwhelmed.  So we visited her house yesterday and volunteered to be her "counselors" (helping to visit people) until there are new ones.  She was very grateful!
A few days ago we contacted a couple that was walking into an apartment.  Tiffany was from England and had no idea what Latter-day Saints or Mormons were.  She had grown up atheist and has run into a lot of JW missionaries in England that she didn't like.  She had a ton of questions, some of which her boyfriend answered, and most of which we answered.  She wanted to sit down and talk about it, and the nearest place was the curb in the parking lot.  I sat on the asphalt and we talked about a bunch of her questions.  She was really confused that we were 20/21 and didn't think it would be fun to drink and smoke and stay up every night and have fun with girls, etc.  Everything she mentioned that she did for fun was contrary to at least some commandment.  As we talked together, she said "you don't do anything that other young people do.  You're so innocent and so happy!"  She started crying, and we continued to talk until their friends came back to bring her to the apartment to party.  She is going back to England in a few days so we can't teach her, but we sure made an impact.
On my exchange with Elder Neil in Vista we experienced a few small miracles.  We were trying to see an LA lady that had a gate around her house.  She wasn't home, and there wasn't anything we could do except pray that she would have some reason to come outside.  A few minutes later, her husband pulled in, and the dog ran outside barking, so she had to leave the house to chase him.  We then got to talk to her and set up an appointment and got her phone number.  Later on, we taught a less-active lady and brought an investigator named Scott to be our 3rd male.  We watched a video on mormon.org and it ended up touching Scott a lot more than Sister Corbo.  He started crying during that video and the next one and had more determination to be more diligent in reading scriptures and going to church.
We had zone leader council and transfers last week.  We got 8 new missionaries and 2 of the 3 district leaders are brand new.  There is a lot of excitement across the zone and stake and good things should be happening!  We had a record amount of investigators at church this week in our zone.
That's about it for now.  Elder Mason finished early and is really bored and is pestering me to finish.  We've begun to get a bunch of referrals in both wards.  We're finally seeing some results from a lot of hard work during slow months and weeks.
I hope you have a great week and happy 4th of July! 
Elder La Follette

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

26 June 2012

Hello family!
I hope you've all had a great week.  We've had a good week here. 
Transfers are today in Vista, not the usual Carlsbad.  Neither Elder Mason or I are getting transferred.  But all the other companionships in our zone, except for the Spanish sisters, have a missionary going home or getting transferred, including all 3 of our district leaders.  We'll be getting a lot of new people to work with!
Also, I've been asked again to play organ at the transfer meeting.  And sacrament meeting the next two weeks.  Wish me luck!  I'm excited for Vista because they have a pull-stop organ like the conference center and not just a button organ like most of them.  It doesn't have 5 keyboards though, only two.
We've had good lessons with some people this week.  We reviewed the Word of Wisdom with Anthony.  He's been struggling with smoking again, but is cutting back.  He made a promise with God that if God helped him get up quickly in the morning and have an awake mind, he wouldn't start the day with the cigarette.  So it turns out he has had the opening shift at Home Depot almost every day for the past 2-3 weeks!  On Wednesday he was praying for help so he could come to FHE on Monday, and when the prayer was over, he got a text from a co-worker asking if Anthony could switch shifts with them, clearing up Monday night!  Anthony has a stronger testimony of prayer than most people I've met!  He always always gets an answer!
There has been a bunch of families in our ward that are moving the past couple weeks and this week.  One of them, the Lippards, will be moving to southwest Lehi.  We visited them to get some last-minute referrals, and found out they are a SUPER missionary family.  We are having all sorts of regrets that we didn't visit them earlier.  We've decided to visit a lot more families to not make the same mistake again.  They'll be inviting a friend and us over for dinner on Thursday, then they'll pack on Friday and move Saturday.  Found out last night too, that Brother Allan, our ward mission leader, and his family will be moving within the next couple of weeks to Yorbalinda (sp?) and will probably have to be released.  They put their house on the market a few months ago to check and see what offers they could get, and it just sold.  They'll be living in his parents' vacant house in Yorbalinda until at least October, then they hope to come back to Mission Viejo.  But for now, they'll be attending a ward up there.  Elder Mason and I are pretty unhappy about that, since both of us will be gone by the time they move back, but happy for them!  So we'll probably get a new ward mission leader soon.
On Saturday we had a zone fast for baptisms in the mission.  Last week President Cook texted all the zone leaders and said we've NEVER had such a low month in baptisms in the mission, and to make plans to make it better.  Sunday night, right after our fast, we had a lesson with Alex and Angie for the first time in a few weeks.  Their other grandma, Paula--who just moved in there a few weeks ago (yes, they and their two grandmas live in the same house) has borrowed their copy of the Book of Mormon and has been reading it.  She knows it's good and has been really interested in learning about the Church.  She told us yesterday ( when we helped them load and pack stuff for their month-long trip to San Jose) that she wants to be baptized when Alex and Angie get baptized.  We are pretty excited!  I won't be around for that when it happens, since there will only be a week between the time they get back from SJ and I go home, but the important thing is that they'll get baptized.
Later Sunday night, we went to the Peel's house for [edit] Peel's farewell open house.  We're really close to the Peel family and especially to Matt.  We've taken him out on many appointments.  He's going to enter the MTC in a week and a half to learn French and go to the Lyon, France Mission.  We're really excited for him!  Jordan [edit], another kid we've been working with has his mission call to Brisbane, Australia and leaves in October (he's cousins with Jackson and Jared [edit] from THS band.  Camille might know them).  It's been fun to work with soon-to-be missionaries and watch them go through the same mental process I did!
Well that's about all the time I have this week.  I hope y'all have a great week!
Elder La Follette

Monday, June 18, 2012

18 June 2012

Hello family!  I hope you're doing well.
We've had a really hard time getting a hold of people this week, so there's not a lot to report on our lessons, but we've had a good week.  We finally got to meet with Juan [edit] again.  He just had 3 or 4 beers for Father's Day (holidays here don't have much to do with what we're celebrating, it's more for the fact that we are celebrating something) and came in to take a rest when we caught him home.  He was about to call his priest from church for more advice on his struggling marriage with Irma.  He's trying very hard to be a good father and from what I've observed, is a very good father and tries to be a great husband.  It is hardly reciprocated by Irma and she is trying for a divorce, despite his efforts.  We read part of the Family Proclamation with him and he was listening intently.  We promised him that the Gospel would help his marriage and family more than any advice that he's getting from mutual friends and self-help books and DVDs.  I hope we can meet with him more consistently.
We met with 2 new investigators last night, who Mason [edit] also invited to meet with us.  He's leaving on his mission to Barcelona in August and is already a fantastic missionary!  We're doubtful whether we'll get to keep teaching his two friends Kaitlyn and Patrick because Patrick is 17 (not a YSA) and Kaitlyn lives just outside the zone, but if that's the case, we'll pass them to other missionaries.  They accepted baptism on the condition they find out the Book of Mormon is true.  Kaitlyn's mother is a devout Catholic, so that might be a roadblock, but we'll work with that once we get to that point.  Thomas couldn't meet this week due to his birthday and Father's Day activities and we won't be able to see him until after he gets back from his mission trip to Rwanda in the beginning of July.  We'll make sure he takes his Book of Mormon with him to read.  We're praying really hard that he doesn't trip up on his mission trip and still decides to read the Book of Mormon when he goes and comes back.  Much of what they're doing down there is finding and teaching the Rwandans and helping them accept Christianity and building up some churches with them.
Other stories from the week...
I was asked again to play the organ in sacrament meeting.  I'm learning songs quicker now, which is nice.  I'm having fun playing the organ in different meetings.  The regular organist should be back this next Sunday.  Bro McAffee told me to thank Mom for making me take piano lessons.  I smiled and said I would... [Editor's note: Elder LaFollette has never taken a piano lesson in his life]
What else... We tried knocking on the door of someone who hadn't been to church in years, and were trying to meet him.  We were surprised when Bro Franks answered the door, the dad of an active family from Bountiful that just moved into the ward, and who we were supposed to meet with the previous night, but didn't go over (we were going to cancel, but we didn't have their phone number!) because something came up.  He kindly invited us in and said they hadn't expected us tonight, but last night.  We told him what happened, but didn't say we didn't mean to knock on their door right then!  After getting to know them and having a good conversation, Bro Franks asked if we could share a lesson for the kids, which Elder Mason did a great job of improvising, and I went along with it.  We do a lot of impromptu lessons, but this one was a lot more stressful than they usually are, but it worked out.  This might be a "it's only funny if you were there" story but I thought I'd share it anyway.
Uhh.... we helped a guy move this week named Eddie.  We talked to him a couple days before and he mentioned he was moving, and we persisted to offer help.  Eventually he said we could come help, but didn't seem to expect us to.  Saturday came, and he wasn't where he said he'd be, so we talked to other people in the complex.  After a couple hours, we saw him moving stuff out of his garage with an LDS friend of his, and we went to help.  It was a simple task and was no real inconvenience for us, but he was very grateful and kept telling us we didn't have to be there if we didn't want to.  At the end of the move, we were standing drinking water and he asked a bunch of questions about missionaries, to us and to his friend, and said he'd look up the missionaries in the next place he was in.  It still amazes me how tiny acts of service that are no problem to us can touch someone else as much as it touched him.  All we did was move a small garage full of boxes to a medium U-Haul truck, but he was very grateful.
What else....  We got kicked out of an apartment complex again on Saturday night.  One of the guards was suspicious of us, and when he saw us a second time (we were actually breaking no rules of the complex) he kicked us out and accused us of lying and using our "practiced excuses".  It reminded me of how pathetic people are because one can usually safely assume that another person is lying to cover their bum.  There is a lot of dishonesty everywhere.  We pleaded our case but didn't fight back or argue, and eventually he said he would only need us to leave because there are a lot of cameras around and if another guard saw him talking to us, and then saw us knock on doors, then he would get in a lot of trouble.  He said he knew we were harmless and would much rather deal with us than the gangs around the complex.  Said he just needed to do his job, then kicked us out.  We were still pretty irritated, but we can't blame him.  So many other people are so dishonest it was probably a commonly safe thing for him to assume that other people were lying.  What was funny though, was as we were about to leave, he said "by the way, my name's Gervaine.  Good to meet you guys" which was pretty out of place in the conversation.
That's pretty much it for now.
Happy Birthday Camille!
I hope y'all have a great week
Elder La Follette

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

12 June 2012

Hello family!
I just realized that the days are passing by quicker than I can keep track of them.  I was trying to remember if it was June 8 or 9 today for my subject line, but it is in fact June 12.
We've had a good week, despite me having been sick most of the week.  I think I've had a cold, but who's to say.  Over the course of my mission, I've humbled myself and taken medicine when I'm sick, instead of thinking I'm too cool for it and will just take being sick.  Lo and behold, I feel better!  Who woulda thunk it?
We had interviews with President Cook on Friday, and this one was different than the usual "well how are things going?" "good." "how's your companion?" "he's doing well." "anything else you need?" "nope.'' "alright, let's bring in the next missionary!".  This time he said "Elder La Follette, in about 8 weeks we'll have an interview that will be significantly longer than this one.  Between now and then, I want you to use a personal study and set goals for the next year, and make plans to accomplish those goals.  We'll talk about those goals in the exit interview."  I imagine that will be a very "trunky" study.  I told him in the interview that I'm grateful for the assignment I have that keeps me busy enough to not think about going home hardly at all.  He laughed and said that's wonderful.  After that, he called in both me and Elder Mason to talk about the zone, it is was back to work as usual!
On Sunday the organist in the singles ward was late to the meeting so Bishop Beckstead asked me and Elder Mason if either of us could play prelude music on the piano.  Elder Mason of course volunteered me quickly, so I went up to play.  A few minutes later the first counselor Bro McAffee asked if I could play for sacrament meeting because the organist wasn't going to show up at all.  So, I got to play organ in sacrament meeting for the first time!  Luckily I had learned one of the sacrament hymns the day before, so I didn't do a terrible job.  The only wrinkle was that we needed to leave the meeting to go to ward council for the family ward, so Elder Mason ran up to the stand and said Dirk was my companion, then rushed off to ward council!  The first song was really slow because I didn't anticipate such a sound delay from the ward (even though transfer meeting was like that too), but the others were great.  Bishop decided I was good enough to play next week as well, so I just got volunteered to play next week in church too!
What else... I had an exchange this week with Elder Eames, one of the assistants, up here in Mission V.  On the exchange he helped me remember that as a leader in a more administrative position, sometimes I need to be more direct and blunt with people.  I've focused so much on ministering and working personally with people and getting down on their level and helping them, I had almost left out completely the part of my assignment that requires a directivity and things along those lines.  It was a good reminder.  We taught Thomas again and had a great lesson about the Priesthood.  We focused mostly on the Great Apostasy (which is one of my favorite subjects because it's so important), which helped him understand clearly the need to find an answer.  We asked him what it means to him and he said "well it means if it's true, then I better be Mormon!"  He forsees his family getting very upset and likely won't support him in college if he converts, and largely disowning him.  It would mean he would have to change colleges from his Christian ministry college he's planning on attending, to something else, and other things.  But he said despite all that, if he finds out it's true and decides it's true, then he will join the church anyway, and is considering serving a mission.  On Saturday he didn't feel he had an answer yet, and we decided to teach him about the Premortal Life, the Creation (which is actually an eye-opening to a lot of Christians.  They think God the Father created the earth by himself, but Christ created it under His direction.  it's in the Book of Mormon and the Bible.) Adam and Eve and the Fall.  We read a lot of 2nd Nephi 2 and talked about it pretty in depth, to his understanding.  He came away feeling what we talked about could be true, but was very different than what he had learned.  Between Saturday and last night, he read 2 Nephi 2 three more times with Mason Ming (his friend) and then finally it all clicked with him.  He also read as many verses in the Bible he could find on baptism, and then prayed for about 30 minutes about whether this was true and right.  He promised Heavenly Father if he got an answer he would join the Church despite all opposition.  He then said he had an undeniable warm feeling come over him, and even felt shaking, and knew he felt the Spirit.  He is very wary of going solely off feeling (as many born-agains are) but that was a very significant event for him and for us.  Last night we had a lesson about the Holy Ghost and how it works and why it is significant.  He is coming a long way.  I imagine he will be baptized within the month of July.
On exchanges on Friday in an adjacent ward with Elder Daniel, we taught a lady named Crystal, who has been investigating for about a year, and has had a hard time accepting baptism.  She is 34 and not married, and comes from a VERY Catholic family.  The members that were at the lesson helped a ton and really took over the lesson in a good way.  The wife, Sister Robertson, had an almost identical situation, and helped Crystal work through it.  Crystal also had a worry she wouldn't fit in a family-oriented church with her situation, but the Robertsons helped her out of that.  She has a testimony that the Book of Mormon is true and the Church is true.  She's scared out of her mind to tell her family she wants to join the church.  She's been wanting to put it off for a long time.  Elder Daniel suggested she pick a date for her baptism to help her tell her mom sooner.  She picked July 28.  It was a miracle that everything worked out how it did.  I love exchanges!  Miracles always happen on exchanges.
What else.. this is already a very long email.  We got a hold of Anthony on Sunday during our 3rd hour ward rescue effort in the YSA ward.  Bishop Beckstead sent us to see Anthony, our only assignment.  We got a hold of him, and he came back to Church with his girlfriend, and then to FHE last night.  The reason he didn't come was because he couldn't afford gas the rest of the week after paying his traffic ticket.  We offered him rides, and he'll be able to go.  Last night he told me he had a really intense prayer asking for forgiveness in being less valiant than he should.  After 15 min of prayer, he got in bed and received a text he'd been waiting for for weeks, telling him he got some money in his account he desperately needed!  He laughed at that and said he knows he needs to do better!
Well I'm out of time and the MV district wants their mail.  I hope y'all have a great week!
Elder La Follette

Friday, June 8, 2012

5 June 2012

Hello family!
I hope you all have had a great week.  Congratulations to Brad and Kelsey [edit] for their big day!  And happy birthday to Grandma La Follette.
We have had a good week in Mission Viejo.  I'll write about things as I remember them, and aren't in any particular order.
Yesterday we had a great lesson (finally) with Thomas [edit] at his friend Mason's house in Ladera Ranch.  He made it to their friend Keegan's farewell before he left for his mission in Africa last week, but wasn't able to make it to stake conference this Sunday (I'll talk about stake conference in a minute).  He has read the first 6 chapters of 1st Nephi and had some questions about Nephi killing Laban, so we talked about that for a while.  He's good on that now.  I've been reading in Judges lately in the Old Testament, which has some pretty gruesome stories about people killing others, so Nephi's story wasn't bad at all!  He is liking what he is seeing of the Church so far, and he had some questions about works vs. faith salvation.  After explaining how that all works, he said "wow, that makes a lot of sense.  You guys have a really bad reputation, you know that?  I feel bad for you guys!"  He doesn't see a big need to get baptized because he feels he's already made the covenant with God when he was baptized into his church.  He wanted a lesson about the significance of the Priesthood, so we'll do that on Wednesday.  He is planning on finishing the rest of 1st Nephi with Mason before the lesson.  Hopefully it goes well!  He is planning on coming to church this week.
On Sunday night we had an appointment with Melissa [edit], a girl that Bishop Beckstead sent us to visit.  None of us knew her, and assumed she was less-active.  After talking with her for a while, we found she was in fact active and was wondering why we were there teaching her!  My tummy kept grumbling really loud (after our huge potato dinner) so that didn't help the awkwardness of the lesson much!  But we laughed about it and talked about missionary work.  She is a convert to the church and actually had a cool story.  Her family growing up was very Catholic, especially her mother.  They knew Latter-day Saints and admired them and fed missionaries but never investigated.  One night her mom had a dream that Jesus Christ was in the neighborhood visiting all the homes and families in the neighborhood.  She was very excited for His visit and cleaned up the house and eagerly awaited the visit.  When He was done with the house next door, He passed up their house and went to the next.  Confused, she called to Him and asked why He didn't come to their house.  He replied "because you are not a part of my Church."  She woke up and was troubled.  The missionaries knocked on the house the next day, and they were baptized into the Church 4 weeks later. 
Stake Conference was this week.  There were no General Authorities visiting this time.  There were fantastic talks by several people that I wish I had time to tell you about.  The speakers were the Stake President, the 2nd Counselor, the Newport Beach Temple President Draney and his wife, a youth speaker, the stake patriarch, and one other lady from the Relief Society presidency.  The Spirit was very strong throughout and everyone that I talked to about it had a very powerful experience.  The choir did a great job as well.  I've learned that California stake choirs are fabulous everywhere.  We didn't get to go to the adult session on Saturday because Shari [edit] backed out last minute due to wardrobe issues....  We were pretty frustrated.  It had already been a very long day with several appointments falling through.  Apparently President and Sister Cook spoke there.  From the sounds of it, they gave a talk (they speak together) nearly identical to the one they gave last year in the Vista stake conference.  I don't blame them, having to work with 180 missionaries and 10 stakes.  There's not a lot of time to prepare everything to make it all original.
This morning we went to Fountain Valley, in the north end of Orange County, out of the mission.  Elder Mason had an appointment with Dr. Mortensen, a dentist from our ward who offered to treat him for free.  I don't know if we're related to him.  I haven't talked with Bro Mortensen long enough to find out!  It was pretty fun to take a "long" road trip up there for that.  It's been a while since I've driven anywhere of significant distance, other than Carlsbad or Vista.  President Cook had to get permission from Salt Lake for us to go, but we were authorized.  No where else would treat him for cheap, much less free, so that was a big blessing.  While I was in the waiting room, the Mission Viejo Institute director, Bro Greiner, came in for an appointment, along with our ward mission leader's wife, Sister Allan.  It was like we didn't go anywhere!
As for others in our teaching pool, we finally got to meet with Bella yesterday.  She was way too busy cooking to sit down, so we just got to talk to Nani [edit] for a little bit before we left.  Bella said she's too busy to take lessons from us, and that Jackie [edit], Priscilla's visiting teacher, will teach her about the Church instead.  So we talked to Sister Anderson later and we're going to go with her to teach Bella!
We haven't heard much from Anthony [edit] recently, which is getting us worried.  The only time we've heard from him in the last 15 days, he texted yesterday and said he'd come to FHE, but didn't.  Hopefully we'll get to see him soon.
Don't know if I mentioned or not, but Floree moved out of the zone, and we dropped Noah from the teaching pool, since we can't ever get a hold of him anymore.
Uhh...what else..  Elders Neil and Eames (the Assistants) came to our comp study yesterday and talked about how things are going here.  They've been visiting all the zone leaders' comp studies.
We've been meeting with all the companionships in our zone and trying to help them get things going in working with their ward councils.  Not done yet, but it will have to take a lot of time.  It will be worth it though, I think.
I went on a companion exchange last week with Elder Gardner, a fairly new Spanish missionary.  He has a lot of fire and is having a lot of fun with his mission.  He has a really good companion, Elder Josse, and they are working very hard together.  Elder Gardner grey-shirted for BYU football his freshman year and is looking to play as a long-snapper when he gets back, and after a red-shirt.  Luckily, he wasn't anti-Utah so we got along pretty well.  He's from Idaho Falls as well, and was on Elder Mason's football team at IFHS.  They didn't know each other super well though, being two years apart.
Uhh, that's all I can think of for now.  We're super busy and doing a lot of stuff.  We're certainly never bored and we're having a great time.
I'll try to tell you more about the less-actives and recent converts we're teaching next week.
Y'all have a good one now
Elder La Follette

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

29 May 2012

Hello family!  I am a little short on time now, but there are some stories from this week.
We didn't get a hold of any of our investigators this week, which was a little frustrating.  We had several lessons with recent converts and less-actives, a couple I'll mention here.  We taught Diana again about the Plan of Salvation.  She's had some questions about serving a mission (she was baptized last August) but is leaning towards it right now.  We had a really nice lesson on God's love for us and everything he made for us.  Everything from the lizard that was doing pushups in front of us in the lesson to the clouds in the sky, to the wind and trees.  Everything was made for us, His children (1 Ne 17:36), and for that I am grateful.
We also had a good lesson with Shari [edit].  We finished watching Prophet of the Restoration and talked more about Joseph Smith.  She is regaining her testimony and we're developing a really good relationship with her.  We met her husband Oscar who is a motorcycle policeman in Anaheim.  He is not a member of the Church but we're going to try to teach him too.
A few days ago we contacted a Mexican guy in an apartment complex.  He was a little less warm than most Mexicans and didn't speak any English.  We tried to talk to him in Spanish, but he kept saying "amigra?  Amigra?" We though he was saying "amiga" which means a female friend, so we corrected him and said "no, amigo!  Amigos!"  He responded "amigra?" "no, amigo!"  He left and we were a little confused.  Yesterday we asked the Spanish missionaries what "amigra" meant.  They told us "immigra" is "immigration" and often refers to immigration police!
We had zone conference this last week here in Mission Viejo.  President Cook complimented us a few times on how well organized we were and told us we did a fantastic job on our training and managing the whole thing.  It did go well.  The topics discussed were the doctrine of repentance, inviting investigators to be baptized more effectively, beginning lessons better (but not the first visit) and working with members (we trained on that).  It was a good conference and everyone learned a ton.  Oh, one funny thing... We had to use an extension cord for a projector screen.  While setting up, we realized there wasn't a cord in the whole church, so we had to get in our car and fly to the Chambers' house to grab one and fly back to the church.  Luckily the Chambers had one, and we got it to the meeting minutes before it started.  Other than that it went great!
The next day we had zone leader council down in Vista.  We again talked about mobilizing ward missions (the system that we have to work with the ward council), baptism services, accountability in district meeting, and principles of leadership.  I don't have enough time to go into a lot of detail, but it also was a great meeting.
I can't think of much else, but I'm out of time anyway.  I hope you have a great week!  Love you all
Elder Jon La Follette

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

22 May 2012

Hello family!  I hope you had a great week!
Last Tuesday at transfer meeting I had a successful organ-playing, which was a nice relief.  President and Sister Cook both complimented me on the prelude music and again after the meeting.  Elder Toronto (one of the assistants) said in the announcements "..and Elder La Follette, who has learned to play the organ since last transfer meeting, will be playing the music!"  It impressed me how much the organ gets drowned out when 120 people are singing.  For the opening hymn I had it on full blast (still getting drowned out) and quickly after the opening prayer before the new missionaries were getting introduced, I had to make an adjustment on the volume level.  But it worked out!
My new companion is Elder Mason, from Idaho Falls, Missouri.  He's a pretty funny guy who likes to talk, but doesn't talk your ear off.  We get along great.  He's a new zone leader, and was transferred up here from Encinitas (San Diego county, by the beach), where he was with Elder Bowen, an elder I trained back in Vista.  He's been out 3 months less than me, and is a very hard worker.
I'm struggling to remember what happened this week.  It was very quick and a blur.  We had some good lessons with less-actives and our recent converts.  Noah didn't show up to his lesson or church, which unfortunately is becoming typical for him.  Thomas [edit]'s lesson fell through and he didn't come to church.  Floree ended up moving to San Clemente, the zone south of us, so we can't teach her anymore.  We'll have to pass her off to the missionaries down there.  We had a lot of unfortunate events in our teaching pool, but things are still going okay.  Alex and Angie came to church again and had a great time.  I think they will be coming regularly now.  They still are very open to us in our lessons, which is fantastic.  On Sunday, the Primary president asked us to come to Jr. and Sr. primary.  The kids apparently get to put a penny in a jar for every set of scriptures they bring on Sunday.  When the jar is full (which it was this week), they get to give the missionaries a Book of Mormon to give away, and we will let them know what we do with it.  Sister Brown (Primary pres) asked the kids who had prayed for us this last week, and about 40 hands shot up.  It made us feel really happy, despite a lot of negative things happening this week.  They can all pronounce Elder La Follette pretty well, and did a good job saying Elder Mason too.
What else... we did yard work for Sister Ayon this week, and ended up moving her backyard drainage pipe down about 3 inches, since it was sticking up a little too high.  I found out that Jordan [edit]'s (a kid in our ward we're pretty close to that just got his call to Australia) cousins were in the Timpview band, Jackson and Jared [edit].  Camille might know Jackson.  Jared was in my trombone section.
We had a meeting with all the ward mission leaders in the stake and President Gentry, the 1st counselor in the stake presidency, and President Ward, from our mission presidency.  By all the ward mission leaders, I mean 4 of the 9 wards were represented.  It was a great meeting but a very poor showing.  We re-emphasized things we've been talking about with our zone and the stake leaders the past few months.  Hopefully things continue to look up for the missionary work in each of the wards.
Sunday was missionary Sunday in the Saddleback ward, with a longer sacrament meeting with talks about the Apostasy and Restoration, Plan of Salvation, The Book of Mormon, and Gaining a Testimony.  Diana [edit], a recent convert, gave the talk on gaining a testimony and did a great job.  After the sacrament meeting, we had sloppy joes for lunch, played a few Mormon Messages videos, then had a Q/A panel for about 30 min.  There were about 9 non-members there, which was great.  4 of them were some guys from Calvary Baptist Church, and came in with tank tops and Burger King mochas and a camera, looking to magnify faults and bash.  They were asked to stop filming the Q/A panel, and ended up asking good questions about how to know what is true, and weren't disrespectful like they were at first.  Hopefully something good comes from it.  We have a meeting in a few days with the ward mission about starting to work with the people that came.  It was a great atmosphere.
Sunday night was the solar eclipse.  Lunar? One of the two.  We got to see it, whatever it's called.  Diana pulled out her 4 pairs of giant sunglasses and we got to see the moon in front of the sun.  It was pretty neat to see!
That's pretty much it for this week.  Let me know if you have questions.  I hope y'all have a great week!
Elder La Follette

Friday, May 18, 2012

Mother's Day Skype Call (last one!)

I discovered this at Summerhay's in Orem, so I took a picture to show Jon.  He was pleased.

Tara, Mike, and Caden

Somehow I didn't get a picture of Mike, Emily, Kort, Lindsay, and Melody, but they were with us, too!
What Elder LaFollette was seeing, sort of...

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

15 May 2012

Hello family!
It was good to see you on Sunday for Mothers Day!  I hope you're all (still) doing well.  There's not a lot to say other than what we talked about.  We did however, pick up a new investigator yesterday.  His name is Thomas [edit], and he's a YSA kid.  His two best friends both have mission calls and invited him to learn about the church.  One of them leaves to Mozambique in a couple weeks, and the other leaves to Barcelona in August.  He's been a Christian growing up, and likes what he sees of the Church so far.  He visited his friends up in Provo at BYU and went to church there.  He's planning on coming to church this week.  Probably the biggest roadblock is his parents, who are very anti-LDS, and don't know he's meeting with the missionaries.  But he is determined to make the right choice, depending on the answer he receives about the Book of Mormon.  He read a chapter and prayed, but didn't get an answer.  He's going to keep trying though.  He's trying to make sure he's learning about the church for himself, and not for Keegan or Matt (his friends).  One fun part of the lesson though was a little unusual.  He's been skeptical about Joseph Smith being a prophet and wanted to know if he's ever prophesied anything that happened.  We showed him in the Doctrine and Covenants section 87 I think (something like that) about the prophecy on the Civil War.  He was blown away!
Other than that, not much has been going on, other than Elder Rupp packing and getting ready to be transferred.  I've been promoted to the big desk in the room and the bottom bunk.  I'll let you know about my new companion as soon as I find out.
Have a great week!
Elder La Follette

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

8 May 2012

Hello family!  I hope you're doing great!
First off, I will be Skyping on Sunday at 4:30PT.  I hope to talk at least a little bit with all of you!
We've had a good week here.  Lots of cancelled appointments, but that's normal in missionary work.  Probably the biggest highlight was our new investigator.  On Wednesday morning we went with the LDSSA (latter-day saint student association) to Saddleback College, set up a table like we do occasionally, and started talking with people about the Church for a couple hours as they walked by.  There were a few people that had fairly long conversation with the LDS kids and gave us their numbers.  One girl named Floree was especially interested, and even showed up at the Institute class at noon.  At this point we had gone to the institute to get some free food, and planned on staying for class until our lunch hour was over. President Cook wanted to talk to us about something, so he came to the Institute while we were there and the Institute director, Bro Greiner, snagged him and had him speak for most of the class time (which Pres Cook of course was happy to do).  One of the questions though, was what process he went through to be called as a mission president.  It was very interesting to listen to, but Floree was befuddled with words like "Elder Holland (probably thought it was a place), stake president, President Uchtdorf, mission president, YSA stake" etc.  But she introduced herself after and then set up a lesson with us for the next day.  We taught her the next day about the Restoration, answering her abundant questions along the way.  After she listened to the First Vision, we asked her how she felt.  "I feel happy.  Really, really happy.  I feel really warm inside.  I'm trying really hard not to cry.  Why do I feel like that?"  Needless to say, it was a really good lesson.  She agreed to come to church and meet again on Monday, but as is customary when you're a missionary, she didn't show up to either church or the lesson.  Hopefully we'll meet with her again tomorrow. 
Rewinding to Wednesday after Institute, President Cook had us give him a tour of the institute building (which isn't anything close to Orem or SLC institutes...a 1-hallway institute), and there was a line of people that wanted to meet him along the way.  It took a while to get him around, but eventually we made it outside again and on our way.  He asked jokingly if I was jamming out on the piano all the time.  I said I don't often at all, usually on PDay when no one is around and we're bored.  He stopped walking and proceeded to call me to repentance, saying, in effect, if I got on a piano as much as I could when people were around and showed my talents, it would break down member--missionary barriers and build lots of trust, and speed up the missionary work.  He told me to pick random hymns and "rock out just a little bit" when around people.  Also told Elder Rupp to make sure I did.  I played this week in a couple various places while waiting for dinners to finish cooking or before a church lesson, or last night at FHE in another room, and there already have been several people asking "you play piano??" "A little b--" "WHY didn't you tell us before that you played piano??" "Lots of people play piano!" "But you're really good!" and then proceed to tell everyone around them that I play piano.  I don't really play the piano well, but now it looks like I'll have to fake it pretty well....  Oh boy!
In other news, Noah didn't show up to church this week again.  We're getting close to dropping him because he's just too scared to come to church without his girlfriend.  He is both under an unrealistically intense microscope, as well as on a shorter leash than any dog.  Yesterday we had a lesson with him, and he asked if we could show him scriptures on why we need to come to church on Sunday, mostly for him, but partly for Marcy, his girlfriend.  Boy, are there!  We asked him if he was sure about his question.  He said yes, then pulled out a paper for notes.  We proceeded to "throw it down" and laid out scripture after scripture after scripture in every part of the standard works.  After a while he said "alright, I think this will do!"  Before he was under the impression that we "just should think about Christ and don't sin on Sunday".  We fixed that too.
We had another lesson with Alex and Angie.  This time we had the opposite of our usual problem with them.  They couldn't be quiet!  They were very rowdy but we had a great lesson on prayer, and we taught Angie how to pray for the first time in her life.  Alex was too scared and promised to do it next lesson.  It was a fun time and they like praying a lot more now, or at least particpating in prayers.  Tomorrow or Thursday we're going to make "prayer rocks" with them to help them remember to say their prayers at night and in the morning.
Things are going well.  We have transfer calls this Saturday night.  I likely will be staying, but Elder Rupp is on the chopping block.  I will let you know on Sunday if either of us are leaving Mission Viejo.  It's always a surprise.
I hope y'all have a great week!  Take care
Elder La Follette

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

1 May 2012

Hello family!
I hope you're all having a great week!
We've had a busy week here ourselves, but things are settling down a little again.  We finished up our companion exchanges with the district leaders and their companions.  Once every six weeks we'll have a 24 hour exchange with them.  The district leader and one of us will go to either our or their area to work, and the other two will take the other area.  The leader in the exchange will evaluate at the end of the exchange and set goals to help them improve.  The assistants to the president (APs) do that with us every 6 weeks as well.  Just a little missionary tidbit for those who are curious.  Sunday after church until yesterday afternoon I went with Elder Daniel, who is from Pleasant Grove.  His companion Elder Blake, the district leader, went to our area with Elder Rupp.  During our planning session, their neighbor Stacy called twice while our screen door was open, but we didn't answer because we're not supposed to during planning, to avoid distraction.  A couple minutes later she came to the window and said "did you hear your phone ringing??" "yes.  We were going to call you back after we were done planning our day."  "Why didn't you answer?" "we're not supposed to during planning.  What do you need?" "Oh.  Well, please answer when I call!" and went back inside.  We continued planning, and she called again.  Elder Daniel answered and was stuck on the phone for about 10 minutes.  She thanked the missionaries for walking lightly down the steps in the morning so she couldn't hear (a previous problem) and noted she heard them singing in the morning.  "Yes, we sing a hymn every morning before we study." "You sing every day?  I only heard you once." "yes, every day." "why do you sing?" "a lot of missionaries sing to help get in the mood to study the scriptures"  "oh, I was hoping you weren't singing so I could hear to make me feel bad."  "no, we wouldn't do that!"  She continued to accuse them of singing loudly to annoy her and make her feel bad about not being righteous, and went on for several minutes.  After hanging up, Elder Daniel said Stacy got mad when his previous companion blew his nose, because he was doing it to offend her, or so she thought.  They've had lots of problems with her!  They try to be really sensitive but she is a little crazy!  It was interesting to be a part of that.  The next morning for our exercise we ran in a mini-canyon by their apartments and found a maze of hedges.  Literally a maze, with a sand pit in the middle, so of course we did the maze!  It was pretty funny.  We later taught an inactive guy that is convinced Romney is going to fix all the problems our country has, and Obama is terrible.  During those conversations I'm glad we have to be politically neutral as representatives of the Church, so we don't have to say anything.
Other stories....hmm.   Noah didn't come to church this week.  We left sacrament meeting to go to his house and knock on the door.  He had gone to the mall with his girlfriend, and was supposedly coming to church in an hour.  Of course, he didn't show up then either.  Needless to say, it was a huge test of patience.  Apparently he has some job interviews this week so we won't see him until next Monday.  We're getting frustrated with him, but at least he has some job opportunities now.
On Saturday we had our statewide Mormon Helping Hands service project, something I don't think we do in Utah, but is bigger outside the Rockies.  We went to a Mission Viejo park and planted thousands of plants.  There were about 600 Mormons there and about 50 non-mormons (it was a community service project, that mostly just we showed up to).  It was 4 hours long and in an hour and a half Elder Rupp and I planted 54 plants, most of them the size of two or three milk jugs.  We had a bounty count going but some park worker came when we weren't looking and took our giant stack of empty plastic planters.  Good thing we were counting ourselves too.  After that we talked briefly with our YSA bishop and the area seventy Elder Higham about how things were going.  Elder Higham is over the Riverside and San Bernardino missions, and Elder Haynie from Escondido is over Carlsbad and San Diego missions.  After a chat we went back to work and filled buckets with stinky and very hot mulch and spread them around the plants we just planted.  After a few shovel-fulls, I got smart and hugged the mulch into giant buckets, filling a 5-gallon bucket in about 4 seconds.  The mulchers couldn't keep up with us so we recruited a few more.  There were 2 other giant mulch piles we cleaned up, and we were very dirty and tired when we finished.  But they gave out free hotdogs.  The missionaries in our zone (the hardest workers!) downed them like tootsie rolls.
On Friday we had another zone leader council (monthly) in Vista.  We talked a lot about the ward missions/Focus 15/Phase II.  Maybe Dad knows about that since he was in ward leadership in non-Utah.  We've already been focusing on that in our zone lately so it was nice not to get a "called to repentance" feeling after the meeting.  Pretty much the idea of the ward missions/focus 15/phase 2 is that the ward council will select names for people to be invited to be taught by the missionaries once a week to help them progress to a specific goal (sacrament, activity in the church, temple, mission, testimony, etc).  A lot of the wards are doing a pretty bad job at it and we've been trying to save it pretty much my whole mission.  Hopefully they can start to get it right soon.
Well I can't think of much else.  We had a few first lessons this week with some less-active members that went well but I don't have enough time to tell y'all about all of them.  Things are going good.
I hope y'all have a good week!
Elder La Follette

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

24 April 2012

Hola familia!
I've been on an exchange recently with Elder Hunt, a Spanish missionary, and have been trying to learn a little more Spanish.  It's still terrible, and everything I know will be useless when I'm not a missionary.  Somos los misioneros de la Iglesia de Jesucristo de los Santos de los Ultimos Dias.  En la tarjeta es un citio de web de Jesucristo en Ingles o Espanol.  Otros Misioneros hablan mucho Espanol!  Ayos pueden ira su casa para compartirlas mas.  Qual es su direccion?  Y su numero telefonico?
That's pretty much all I know.
I hope you've all had a great week!  This morning we had our quarterly temple trip.  It was my first time seeing and going to the Newport Beach Temple.  It's really small but really pretty!  It always feels very peaceful and the things inside always feel very real.  It was a really nice experience.  We did have to mooch a ride off some elders in the adjacent ward because Bro Davidson, who was supposed to give us a ride, hasn't responded to us today or yesterday.  Usually he's very reliable but I guess it didn't work out today.  I have sorta given up promising pictures since I'm really bad at sending them now.  Sorry!
Uhh, Noah didn't show up to church on Sunday.  Big bummer.  Elder Rupp and Elder Josse (Elder Hunt's usual companion) had a lesson yesterday addressing the difference between the desire to go to church vs. the willpower to go to church.  They got a firm commitment for him to come this week. We'll see. 
We taught Jason and Ashley [edit] Sunday and yesterday.  Jason's sister Kayla from Diamond Bar (another city) brought her boyfriend Markell over to have the first lesson with us.  We had a really good lesson and he's going to read the Book of Mormon all the way down before he makes any firm commitments.  Rightly so.  In the past 5 years, he's been non-denom Christian, Catholic, Buddhist, Muslim, some other weird religion I haven't heard of, Baptist, Presbyterian, and now back to non-denom Christian.  Unfortunately we won't teach him because he doesn't live in our mission, but it was a good lesson regardless.  Ashley made some really tasty peach cobbler too, which is always a plus.
This coming Sunday we get to participate in a 5th Sunday 3rd hour meeting at church about missionary work.  They want us to role play in front of everyone about how to answer the "tough" questions people ask about different things like polygamy, blacks/priesthood, temple and everything to do with that, multiple heavens, golden tablets, mountain meadows, etc.  From what I've seen, members make it a lot harder and a lot more awkward than it should be.  The best way to answer all of those questions is just to answer them.  Don't need to beat around the bush or be defensive or be ashamed.  Most likely their preachers or websites have fed them garbage that isn't true, and most likely, the real truth will appease them, or at least answer in the way they want.  If they're not satisfied, then likely nothing we say will satisfy them.  An easy way to tell is how rapidly they fire out questions like that.  If they ask more than one at a time before you answer, they won't even listen to the answer and it's next to worthless to answer them anyway.
Turns out Jolie and her boys Ralph and Ro moved.  Too bad.
I can't think of much else to say.  It's been a good week.  We're still getting along and still working hard.
I hope y'all have a great week!
Elder La Follette

Thursday, April 19, 2012

17 April 2012

Hello family!
We've had a big week here, lots of things going on.
First off, Sunday was President and Sister Cook's anniversary, which was funny because he's a CPA.  Sis Cook said they really have never celebrated on the day of.
Second, we had two 8-hour leadership training meetings (by the way, I'll never complain about a long class again, and certainly won't complain about church being 3 hours) last Wednesday and Thursday in C-bad and Vista.  The trainings there were largely a duplicate of previous trainings I've had in my mission, but still things the mission needs.  We practiced a lot in asking questions to teach principles, and in resolving concerns to help people accept baptism dates.  Hopefully we see "fruits" of that soon.  The only result so far is that we weeded Bobby out of our teaching pool after 2 lessons, since he wasn't very willing to change or do anything.
During lunch and after both meetings, I got together with the two sisters and two elders that were singing in the quartet I accompanied and practiced.  I actually played better with them there singing, which was nice.  They sounded great.  It was an arrangement of How Great Thou Art.  Come Saturday's mission conference, I was pretty nervous about playing an instrument I don't play in front of Elder Nelson and Pres Hallstrom.  We practiced when we arrived in C-bad, and said a prayer after the practice that we'd do well.  When we did the piece for real, it was flawless and really pretty powerful. It brought the Spirit into the meeting and was great.  Elder Nelson thanked us when he spoke, and again personally after the meeting.  That was pretty neat!  I'm glad it is over now though, so I can actually eat something at lunch instead of playing a piano.
The mission conference was really neat.  Elders Nelson and Hallstrom, with Elder Haynie (area authority) and President Cook met with all the area bishops and stake presidencies, but they wanted to be with just us in the morning.  It was cool to see Elder Haynie speak again.  He was the stake president in Escondido when I was there, and invited us to his house for breakfast every few weeks.  There are only a couple missionaries left in the mission that had breakfast at his house (he asked everyone to raise their hands who did).
President Hallstrom (who is deceivingly large in stature) introduced Elder Nelson, and spent the rest of his talk explaining how meetings are conducted in the church, and the Spirit will only be there if we're willing to change.  If we don't change as a result of the meeting, then everyone's time is wasted.  It was a really cool talk and was more positive than I probably made it sound.  Elder Nelson was pretty wide in topics he addressed, which included:
-Listening with the intent to change (talking about Pres Hallstrom's talk--29 of D&C sections have hearken in the first verse, which is a translation of the Hebrew shama, which means to listen with intent to obey)
-What it means to cry repentance (repentence in its Greek form implies changing our mind, knowledge, spirit, and even the way we breathe to align ourselves with Christ)
-Told us we look good and people will notice that and will talk to us simply because of that (later that day, 2 people mentioned we look sharp and it's nice to be around people that look sharp...fulfillment of prophecy!)
-Told a story of how they almost didn't make it to our meeting because there was bad weather reported in Carlsbad (Palomar airport) so they'd have to go to SD and drive up.  But they prayed and we prayed and the weather was clear enough for them to land safely, then it rained again
-How to work with less-active members and said "That's where the gold is, folks!" meaning that's how we get good referrals
-Helping wards and ward councils be more missionary minded
-Following our mission president and his example
-How to pick a spouse, and how they need to love God more than us.  Before he said that, he said "oh, we're not supposed to talk about marriage.... Well, let's talk about marriage for a little bit!"
-Family will be blessed at home (D&C 31, which is a great section)
-Gospel will fill the earth, and we are charged to spread it with the Apostles, and are the frontlines of sharing it, since there are so few apostles
 Then he left an apostolic blessing on all of us, which included blessing us that:
-We will feast on the words of Christ and be effective ambassadors, disciples, and emissaries of the Savior in bringing people to Him and to eternal life
-Safety (also with wisdom as we follow the law of the land and the law of God
-Blessing of healing of loved ones
-Joy & success
It was a really cool meeting.
Yesterday we had a lesson with Noah, who didn't come to church again.  We had a bold lesson "throw down" on opposition, agency, and eternal life.  He is letting his girlfriend control almost every move he makes and leaves all decisions up to what she wants to do, which is nothing.  He took it to heart and we all are praying he'll be bold enough to come to church on Sunday, no matter what she does.  It seems simple enough, in that the church is a whole 4 minute walk from their apartment.
We also had a lesson with Bella yesterday.  We brought her copies of the Book of Mormon in Tagalog and Pompongan (sp?), and a pamphlet in Tagalog.  She was thrilled at the Pompongan one, and said "they don't even have the Bible in this language!  How did you get this??"  During the lesson she was more content in reading the pamphlet than listening to more information, so we let her, and answered questions as she had them.  So that's the good news.  Bad news is that she and Priscilla are going to Nevada this week to visit Priscilla's other children.. for a month.  We're going to load her up on pamphlets to read while she's gone!
Also had another lesson with Darrell.  This is his last week in the USMC, and will be going to Delaware about a week from now.  He agreed to meet with missionaries in DE, so we'll send his info off.  We're having quite a stream of people leaving lately!
I can't think of much else.  I hope y'all have a great week!
Elder La Follette