I have been transferred to Mission Viejo (vee-AY-ho), in Orange County.
I was praying for a full-time bike area so I could lose some weight, but instead I got a full-time car area! I'm with Elder Rupp, from Hyde Park (Logan), UT. We get along really well! We're the zone leaders here in Mission Viejo Zone/Stake in south Orange County. That includes the cities of Mission Viejo, Ladera Ranch, Las Flores, and Los Alisos. We also cover the YSA ward, which includes two stakes, so we also cover the Santa Margarita Stake, adjacent to our northeast, which includes Rancho Santa Margarita, Lake Forest, Foothill Ranch, and I think one other city. Cities here are geographically tiny but have tons of people. The area we cover is probably about the size of Provo and Orem.
Elder Rupp and I get along really well. He is a smart and capable missionary. He went to Utah State and doesn't like BYU. He has forgiven me for being from Provo! I still haven't had a BYU fan companion my whole mission (on my 13th companion). He uses big words a lot, so my vocabulary has increased a little bit! One of the APs, Elder Eames, calls frequently and asks Elder Rupp what the word of the day is. But E Rupp doesn't flaunt how smart he is, which is really nice. He's humble and funny, and we get along well. He's my first companion that hasn't complained about my snoring!
We have a really good teaching pool between the 2 wards. We picked up 5 new investigators in the family (2nd) ward last week. Elder Rupp has had one the whole time he's been here (3 months) so we were pretty excited! There are 2 9-year twins named Angie and Alex that haven't been baptized and have only been to church once or twice before. They get distracted easily, so we're going to use lots of object lessons to teach them! There grandma, Sister Morales, has custody of them and is a less-active member. A lot of good things will happen there. We also started teaching Jolie, Ralph, and Roe. Jolie is a Chinese lady from Mexico. That wasn't a typo. She speaks fluent English, Spanish, and Chinese. Her two boys Ralph and Roe are 13 and 10. Roe is a very high-functioning Down syndrome boy. They both love baseball and are pretty good at it, so we get along well. Jolie wants the boys to have a good male influence through the Church. Her husband, a Mexican man, has to work in Mexico to earn money for the family. Most of the time, a Mexican man will come to the US to work and send back money to Mexico, but in this case it's reversed.
In the YSA ward, we have two investigators we're teaching. (By the way, we have several less-active members and lots of recent converts we're teaching, but I don't have enough time to tell about all of them!) Anthony  is dating an LDS girl and is coming out of a swamp of Word of Wisdom issues. He relapsed smoking last week, but he's been clean. We taught him about the word of wisdom yesterday and he said he already quit tea and coffee because he realized he was addicted to them. This was before we ever taught him about that. He called and asked if we could move his baptism day from Apr 10 to Mar 17 because he doesn't want to wait longer. He is on fire and loves the Gospel. He is changing his life around a ton right now and is on track. His boss at Home Depot has been very reluctant to give him Sundays off work, so he hasn't been to the YSA ward church yet. He did come for the first time to church this Sunday with us at our family ward and had a great time. More to come on Anthony later.
We also started teaching Ashley  yesterday. We contacted her on the street on Saturday and she wanted to meet up today to talk more about the Church. We had to meet her at Starbucks because she felt a little uncomfortable meeting us at the church for our first visit. Elder Rupp and I tried Dirk (recent convert who came with us)'s favorite hot chocolate and it was nasty. Too much hazel nut. We had about a 90-min discussion with her. She works at a born-again church and asked the typical questions, but not in a bashing way. She isn't looking for the Restoration right now, but maybe she'll catch on soon. She's not "golden" right now, but we'll meet with her again on Wednesday. Hopefully something better comes out of that.
I hope you're all doing well. Things are going great here. Have a great week!
I am being transferred later today to a new area. President Cook told me he is counting on me in the new area. I don't know where it is yet. In our mission, they call and tell us Saturday night IF we're going, but don't say where. On Tuesday afternoon, all the missionaries getting transferred and their companions will all meet at the Carlsbad Stake Center (which happens to be our church building), where we have a meeting, and President Cook will then go ward by ward and say who is transferring and where to. After the meeting, we meet our new companions and travel with the ward member that is from the new ward, and go to the new area. Our mission is small enough so that is the easiest way to do it. It's also a good time to see other missionaries and mingle a little bit, and say goodbye to the ones going home.
We haven't met with Eigi since last week, but the elders will probably stop by tomorrow after district meeting. Beth has been doing great so far. She still goes to seminary every day and is still really solid in the Gospel. The elders will have one more lesson with her then she'll be passed off to ward missionaries and home teachers to finish the lessons. Her family didn't come to church this week but hopefully her brother will start coming again. He's been twice already. That's all I'm going to know now though, unless I get further info down the road. Tatsiana won't reply to us anymore, and rarely responds to member friends, even to invites to dinner and such. We will send her as a referral to the Encinitas missionaries in Del Mar stake, where she lives, since she isn't showing any signs of moving.
Misty  came to church this week! I don't even know if I've mentioned her before. We've been teaching her and her husband Rian for about a month. We had a good lesson over there this week about the Restoration and they committed to read Moroni 10 and pray about it. They are afraid to have to make changes in their lives if it's true, but are willing to take it step by step. Misty is a member who grew up in the church, then fell away a few years ago. Rian is not a member, and didn't really grow up religious. They first came to church my 2nd or 3rd week here, and that was it. They work at Costco on Sundays and have a hard time getting it off. But Misty showed up to church this week and even stayed all 3 hours. Hopefully Rian will be able to come soon too.
Al has officially found a rehab to go to. We've had a couple false alarms but he has signed paperwork and everything to go to a 9-month rehab called the Alpha Project. Starting from day 1, they help them overcome drugs as well as help them earn money and get them a job when they get out. It is exactly what he needs and I hope it works out. He may be leaving to it as early as today. We saw him this morning to say goodbye.
I've had a great time in Carlsbad. I wish I could stay 6 more weeks, but I suppose I'm needed elsewhere. The people in Carlsbad are wonderful, especially the members of the Church. I've made a lot of friendships here, just like my other areas. I've grown a lot (physically as well....) and have learned a lot. My next area might be my last, and it might not. Either way, I'll let you know where I go next week. On to my 5th area and 13th companion! I wonder if I'll stay in San Diego County like the rest of my mission, or if I'll break the streak and head to Orange County or even Temecula in Riverside County!
Hello family! I hope you all are having a good day! Happy Valentine's Day
First things first, Bethanie's baptism went great on Saturday afternoon. She had a lot of support and was well prepared. Usually baptisms have 25-35 people attending and that is a good crowd. We had to interrupt one of the talks to bring in lots more chairs, to fill the room shoulder to shoulder, wall to wall, and it still spilled out the back into the hallway. I counted 83 people that came, including our mission president. It was great! The Spirit was very strong. When Beth got baptized, it felt like the Spirit burned the room (The Spirit of God like a Fire is burning!). There were several people in tears when she came out of the water, a couple of which I don't think had ever met her before. She was confirmed on Sunday in church by Elder Graham. He did a great job and did the wording perfectly (few blessings have correct wording..) I will try to send pictures to all y'all today but no promises.
Well I'm out of time! I thought I'd have more, but that's all I get I guess.
We did pick up one new investigator yesterday, Eigi, and set up a dinner appointment with another new investigator on Thursday. Ask Camille about Eigi, because I don't have enough time to talk about him. Sorry!
We are having a movie night on Thurs at the church, showing the Testaments. Similar to what we did in Vista. Should be a lot of people there!
Elder La Follette
(From Jon's email to Camille)
"As for investigators, we picked up a guy yesterday (picked up is missionary lingo for started teaching) named Eigi (ay-jee) who is super smart. He is hesitant to accept the idea of faith, but is willing to try church and see how he feels. We promised he'd feel something good at our church that he didn't feel anywhere else. He has read the Book of Mormon all the way through already, as well as the OT and NT 5x. I hope he goes to church, and continues reading. It's interesting how the things we ask people to do are no different than what we teach in the church: read, pray, go to church. That's the triangle of testimony (I just made that up. Cool huh!), just like we have the fire triangle (heat, oxygen, fuel). It's still that simple."
I hope you've had a good week! We've had an okay week here.
Beth "passed" her baptism interview and will be baptized this Saturday at 2pm! We are very excited for the baptism. We've been waiting a long time for this. The ward is excited and very supportive. We are expecting a lot of people at the service. Brother Findlay will baptize her and Elder Graham will confirm her on Sunday. It will be his first confirmation! I'll try to send pictures next week.
We had zone conference on Wednesday in Cardiff. We emphasized heavily using the Book of Mormon in teaching people, and even reading it with people if time permits when we talk to them on the street. We talked extensively of the doctrine around the Book of Mormon and what the Lord thinks of it. It is a sure testament of Jesus Christ. In the Book of Mormon it has 104 different names for Jesus Christ. We came up with about 40 off the top of our heads, and then were given a list of all the others. It mentions Jesus Christ every 1.7 verses in the Book of Mormon. We are currently reading the Book of Mormon as a mission between Christmas and Easter, and underlining all the references to Christ, His words, and any teachings of the Gospel. It's amazing how much the Lord is involved in the Book of Mormon.
After zone conference, we got a chance to meet someone on the street when we returned to Carlsbad, and read with him some verses of the Book of Mormon, the introduction, and part of the Plan of Salvation pamphlet. We felt bad because he was taking attention off his work of changes the gas price sign, but he was interested in what we were saying so we kept talking to him! He lives in Vista, so we sent the referral off to the Vista elders, which should be in the zone leaders ward.
Other stories this week...
After our lemonade stand on Friday, we found a stash of semi-old cupcakes in the church kitchen that we could tell were leftovers, so we had a feast with the C1 elders. It was an all-you-can-eat cupcake buffet! It was great. We felt sick after though, for eating too many. The next day at lunch, I made us a couch on our patio from 3 church chairs and 2 quilts folded over. Our fancy end table was an extra stool we have covered in an old blue pillowcase. We have fancy outdoor furniture now!
On Saturday night, we had a lesson, dinner, and watched a Church movie with Yamilda and Tony. There were two drinks available, fruit punch, and what we all thought was apple juice. It was in a jug of Arizona green tea (Tony's girlfriend bought it) and looked like apple juice, and Yamilda insisted it was apple juice. So we all thought Tony's girlfriend finsihed the tea and they had put extra apple juice in the jug. So I, liking apple juice, poured a glass of it, and drank it down. It tasted weird, and I thought it was probably tea. Elder Graham tried some to prove me wrong, and he knew it was tea! He used to drink tea all the time. It was pretty gross! We dumped out his cup and the rest of the jug. Whoops!
I did hit my 18 month mark on my mission on Saturday. It's amazing how fast it's going. I'm glad I have as much time left as I do. I do miss the family and Utah and everything, but my mission is awesome. I'm sad it's already 3/4 done. I'm glad we can still be missionaries when we don't have tags. It's been a great privilege so far to be known as a servant of the Lord and to represent Him. My testimony has grown so much and I have grown so much closer to God. I do know that this church is the Church of Christ, that God lives, and that He loves us all dearly. This is the work of God, and nothing can or will stop it. I'm grateful for the chance I've had so far to be a part in it. I wish I would have been a better missionary before my mission. There really is nothing scary about it. The fear we have is an artificial one that Satan tries to slow us with. There are lots of ways to do missionary work, and I again encourage all of you to find your own way to do it, and help this great work move along.
Random sidenote--today is my half birthday! Elder Graham said "well almost congratulations" this morning.
We've been very blessed the past couple weeks. It'd been really tough to find new investigators but God is blessing us a lot right now. I've come to realize even more now than before the fact that finding investigators has little to do with how skilled we are, but rather how much God sees fit to bless us. We do have to work hard and do things right, but as always, He blesses us when it's time for us to be blessed. We found 3 new investigators last week. Unfortunately we've had to "drop" a couple because they were no longer interested. Bryan  was one of those. We had a long conversation on his porch but he isn't willing to try to exercise any faith and try anything. It was really sad when we left, because he was so close to finding something that will help his life significantly. That's when the greatest sadness comes for us missionaries--when someone is so close to accepting the Gospel and changing their lives, then they reject it. It's never any easier to deal with! But I am sure he'll find the Gospel later in his life.
I've been on a lot of exchanges for 10 the past 11 days. Exchanges are when Elder Graham and I exchange companions for 24 hours with another set of elders in the district. I have to exchange with and evaluate every elder in the district every 6 weeks, as well as going with one of the zone leaders for them to evaluate me. It's been fun and lots has been learned, but it's worn me out! Luckily we're done with them for the next few weeks at least. One of the cool things about exchanges though, is it seems a miracle happens every time we go on one, in one form or another. Elder Graham and Elder Hunt (zone leader) picked up a new investigator--Vanessa  (her husband Will is a semi-active member). Vanessa accepted to be baptized, but Elder Graham (and for some reason Elder Hunt) was too shell-shocked to set a date for the baptism! I've never even met her because we've had so many exchanges. The next day I stayed in our area with Elder Hensley and we taught another new investigator--Todd  (his wife Tiffiney is an inactive member). Miracles keep happening! Beth  is still on track. She will be interviewed this week and baptized next Saturday the 11th after the worldwide leadership broadcast. She set a huge goal during finals testing week to read from 2nd Nephi 3-29, and she accomplished it! Her mother Jackie and little brother Logan came to church this week (neither have been to church in C-Bad) and the ward did a great job at fellowshipping them.
Also, Joanne and Chris  both came to church today. Chris hasn't been to even a portion of sacrament meeting since October. He has decided to start working to become a priest before he goes to college. His dad Al recieved notice to enter his 4-month rehab this morning down in San Diego. I don't know if I even told y'all about that. He has been addicted to lots of drugs for decades. Now he is going to try to get rid of the last ones once and for all. It's been a huge struggle for the Phillips family, but hopefully this will take that away. He has promised us he will read the Book of Mormon while he is there (when Al makes commitments, he keeps them). I will be out of Carlsbad before we see him again, so hopefully I will have some news about that in a few months. Meanwhile, Joanne and Chris are going to be working on their relationship and work on getting active in the church again.
Tony  finally came to church this week and had a really good time. He came to all 3 hours and the priests quorum and Bishop Ferrell did a great job in putting their arm around him. I hope he goes consistently now. He knows he needs to be there.
We can't get a hold of Tatsiana again. She's been slipping away recently and we're trying really hard to help her. Members are trying to get a hold of her but so far not a lot has worked.
That's about it for now as far as our teaching pool goes. This morning we got to go to the temple again. It still never gets old going there and seeing the beauty in and out of it. It was Elder Graham's first time going there. It feels so great to be in there and feel the Spirit so strong. I wish I would have done baptisms for the dead more frequently when I was home. I plan to attend the temple regularly when I come back. It's a wonderful place.
Yesterday Elder Graham and Elder Soderberg managed to clog the toilet again and made a mess! I came back after exchanges and the place smelled like bleach! I soon learned they had bleached almost everything within 10 feet of the toilet to clean it up, but it was still backed up. I had the privilege of unstopping the toilet. Not sure why I told y'all that!
We have zone conference tomorrow again in Cardiff (or some of you may know it as Cardiff-by-the-Sea). Yesterday the zone leaders called and asked if our district could sing a musical number and me play the piano. I hope we do okay! It's a little known fact that I don't actually play the piano well. I feel like a fraud! Looks like I get to fake my way through another song!