We've had a tough week, but we did have some great things happen. We taught Alex and Angie and watched the Finding Faith in Christ DVD, and they made a bunch of comments throughout the movie and they watched it intently. This was significant because we're usually lucky to get 15 words out of them the whole lesson, but they're really opening up to us now! They even came to church this week!!! After sacrament meeting ended, Carrie  (their member friend and school classmate) rushed over and snagged them and took them to Primary with her. It was awesome! Then Sister Kehoe came and took Sis Morales to relief society with her. We didn't even get to talk to Sister Morales or the twins because the Kehoes were too awesome of missionaries!
We also got to teach Noah yesterday after he showed up to an institute class and brunch. He's had tough luck finding a job but is still trying hard. He wants to be free from his "girlfriend" and be able to go to church when he wants and get baptized. He's a lot of fun to teach because he always volunteers to read, and takes notes on a piece of paper as we go through the lesson. He has a really sincere and soft heart, a lot like Anthony. We're praying hard that he can get a job, because that's really the only hurdle in the way now.
On Friday we had another zone leader council down in Vista. I have become the main piano player for the mission, so of course President Cook asked me to play for the council. It's almost amusing that he asks me to play a certain song, and I say I can't play that one, but I can play the two on either adjacent page to it! He says "no, you can do it!" "No, I really don't know how to play that one..." "Well I think you can do it! We'll sing that one!" I've found it fruitless to try to negotiate with him! Luckily he gives me the song in enough time that I can trip my way through it and make it decent. But, it's always a spiritual experience at zone leader council, and a good chance to see other missionary friends, including my MTC companion, Elder Zarate. He's a zone leader in Escondido right now. Anyway, one of the things we talked about was that the USPS is no longer forwarding mail from the mission office to our individual addresses. Mail should still be sent to the mission office, but we may not get it for a couple weeks. The way we'll get it (especially in Orange County where I am) is whenever a senior couple or the APs make a trip up here, they'll bring mail up with them, and will meet all the zone leaders (including us) and give us mail. Then we have to drive around the zone and distribute mail either to district meetings or to individual apartments. So don't feel bad if I don't give a reply for a few weeks, that's what we're dealing with now. The Church Missionary Department said that has been happening for many US missions. Their new policy is they won't forward mail anymore for businesses, and under their definition, the Church is a business. Of course, we know better, but that's what the situation is.
On Saturday we helped the Eads family move out of our ward, which was sad for us because 1, Bro Eades is a really cool guy, but 2, because he's a grown-up version of what I want to be! He's an accomplished musician (a fantastic organist for the ward) as well as a high school sports writer for ESPN! We are sad to see him go, but he told me to give him a call if I still am looking into sports journalism.
Transfers are next Tuesday already! Elder Rupp may or may not go this time. We've decided that there is a 40% chance he'll go this time. I am pretty safe to stay here this next transfer. There are only 2 missionaries coming in the mission, and 3 going home, which are both significantly smaller numbers than usual. Consequently, President Cook told us a few weeks ago to expect a small transfer, and that more people will stay put than normal. We'll still have to go to Carlsbad for the transfer meeting regardless if we are transferred or not though.
Well that's all I can think of for now. I hope y'all have a great day!
Anthony  was baptized on Saturday, and confirmed on Sunday, and received the Aaronic Priesthood on Sunday. Elder Rupp baptized him, a member of the YSA ward confirmed him, and I was honored to give him the Priesthood. It was the first time I've given anyone the Priesthood. It was an amazing experience, and there was a strong spirit in the room. Anthony is doing really well and is really excited to be a Church member. Last night at the YSA FHE, the person giving the lesson asked if there were any non-members there, and Anthony about raised his hand, then quickly brought it down and said "nope, not anymore!!" He is already looking for opportunities to share the Gospel and lift up less-active members. He is doing great. Pictures to come... eventually...
West  just emailed me, the first time I've heard from him since he was deployed last July. He told me how he is doing out in Afghanistan. He was able to take 2 weeks off and visit Ceyda in Florida, where they re-took their wedding vows, and went on a cruise. He misses his family a lot but gets to talk to them. He said the family goes to church every week that work permits (which is almost every week) and they still can't wait to be baptized when he gets back. He again thanked me for teaching them the Gospel and helping them find God. That made me feel good!
Alex and Angie didn't accept a baptism date this week but want to go to church and specifically Primary this week. They probably don't know what baptism really is, despite us trying to explain it. They want to go to a baptism service, and I imagine they'll want to be baptized after they see one. We had our lesson at the Kehoe's house, who are and will be great fellowshippers for Sister Morales and the girls.
We had dinner last night with the Byrnes, and Bro Byrne had a euphonium (baritone) that he wanted me to play. I got to play a euphonium on my mission! And I wasn't quite as rusty as I thought I'd be, which was nice.
Noah  is still doing well. He's gotten a couple call-backs for interviews, so he should be able to move out within a month or two! It's been hard to teach him consistently because he doesn't have a phone, but he showed up to the Institute on Friday when we were in another lesson. Bro Greiner, the Ins. director, called us and said he came for a lesson. We got the message about 45 min later, and zoomed to the Institute. Bro G said Noah had stayed for about 40 min and talked to him, and had just barely left to go home. We parked the car and sprinted down the street (really heavy traffic street so everyone could see) after him and eventually caught him. We walked back to the Institute building and had a great lesson. He loves the Church and the Book of Mormon. He's trying really hard to get his "girlfriend" to go to church with him and take lessons, but she's a hard case.
Jolie cancelled our church tour this week, and wants to wait until after spring break to meet with us again. We're still trying to figure out when spring break for them is! They go to a private school so it's hard to figure out.
We've had a bunch of meetings this week. We went to all 3 district meetings, had interviews with all 3 district leaders (about an hour long each), and had a meeting with the stake presidency, the high councilor over missionary work (Bro Valdivia) and all the bishops and ward mission leaders from the stake. Elder Rupp gets really stressed out over meeting with "the big guns" as he calls it, so it was almost funny to watch him during the meeting. The stake leadership thinks very highly of all their missionaries (especially the Spanish ward, for good reason) and things continue to move upward. There have been 15 baptisms in the stake so far this year, ahead of last year, and right on track for the goal.
I hope you all have a great week! Things are going great here. We're happy, healthy, and very busy.
First things first, Anthony  had a successful baptism interview and will be baptized this Saturday! He's probably the most excited of anyone, which is saying a lot! He's come a long, long way the past several months and is just loving the Church. He's read up to Mosiah in the Book of Mormon. He told us he has about 4 copies, one for home, one in his car, one in the bathroom, and one for his backpack. He even bought his own used copy of the triple combo (didn't want us to give him one because he likes old things so he ordered one on his own). He's started reading the Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price as well. The ward is really excited and we're hoping to have a big turnout. Elder Rupp will baptize him. Elder Rupp was a little upset because he had a slightly bizarre goal to go his whole mission without baptizing anyone. He wants the investigators' fellowshippers do it, but Anthony asked him to, so there goes his goal! I'll send pictures. Well, eventually. I think I still haven't sent pictures of Beth's baptism yet... sorry!
We finally got a hold of Jolie, Ralph, and Ro Sunday night and we're going to give them a tour of the church building tonight. It's the first time we've met with them since our lesson a couple weeks ago. A member family the Kehoes (with similar ages), will be there to accompany us.
We haven't been able to get a hold of Kevin  in a couple weeks. It's been a little frustrating, but we're obviously going to keep trying. Often we will teach a solid Restoration lesson and do everything right, and then we don't see the person for a couple weeks, despite our efforts. It happens very frequently. That's what's happened to Jolie too.
I went on two more companion exchanges this week, but this time I stayed in our area and ran it. Good thing I'm starting to know my way around, and have a GPS with me! It's difficult to figure out the streets of CA without just memorizing it.
Elder Rupp has now told me about my snoring too. He's had a cold come on, so he's lost a little bit of sleep and now can hear me snoring. A few people have described it as chainsawing logs, or a frieght train, or a bear intruding on the room. I think other missionaries are more entertained than bothered by it. Either way, I hear about it frequently!
On Sunday in the YSA ward some stake member (not a YSA), perhaps on the high council, boldly threw down a talk on the Apostasy and Restoration, similar to Elder Holland, or Elder Hugh B Brown (in his younger days) and some others. It was really cool. There happened (for lack of a better word--that makes it sound like coincidence) to be 3 non-members that showed up to our ward who were searching local church in the area to find one they liked who were all listening intently. We got to talk to all of them (they weren't together). None wanted us to meet with them, but they will probably come back to our church again soon.
I can't think of much else to say. I'll try not to talk about the weather anymore because I seem to almost every week.
Things are going good. I hope you all have a great week
I hope things are going well for you this week. It's been really warm the past few days (I hope the Palmdale La Follettes aren't roasted!). Sunday felt like early July in Utah.
It's been a good week this week. We were able to go on two exchanges with other missionaries. On Wed-Thur, I went down to Vista with Elder Eames, one of the Assistants. I didn't get to see Fonzi, but it sounds like he is doing well. His wife Ruby is struggling to come to church, but is improving. We did get to eat lunch with Uncle Craig though! It was good to see him again. For those who don't know, I stayed at his house in Vista for several days while visiting with friends. On Friday-Sat, I went up to the Alicia Park area with Elder Hunt, one of my former zone leaders in Carlsbad. It was fun to be with him again. Their area has been struggling (poor missionaries in the distant and recent past) but they're trying very hard to pick it up. While there, we contacted a guy on the street named Kevin , and he invited us back to his apartment in 10 min to teach him about the Restoration. It was a great lesson, except Satan was trying really hard to mess it up! As we were setting up the First Vision, his phone buzzed, but he ignored it. When the phone stopped buzzing, Elder Hunt gave the First Vision and the Spirit came into the room. We leave a time for silence at the end of it so the Spirit can bear witness to them of the truth. Just when Elder Hunt finished, his home phone went off and he had to go answer it. Kevin said "of course it would do that. Perfect timing." Upon returning from the call, we resumed in introducing the Book of Mormon, and the TV, which had been paused the entire time, started playing his show really loudly. He got up, paused it again, then came to sit down again. We again resumed, and the TV started playing again! It was almost comical at this point. Just when we were inviting him to read 3rd Nephi 11 for a commitment, the doorbell rang and then it was over. We managed to salvage a closing prayer then we had to go. He said he would come to church the next day, but ended up sleeping in. We have another appointment with him tonight, since he is a young single adult. We felt bad in trying really hard to help Elder Hunt's area in finding new investigators, but ended up finding one for our own area!
Anthony continues to progress very well. But, he again asked his supervisor for work off on Sunday afternoon, and his supervisor said he'd probably never get Sunday's off again. Anthony has already explained that the reason he's asking is because he's getting baptized into a church and wants to go to church on Sunday, but his boss won't budge. He even previously had the Sunday after his baptism off (so he can get confirmed) but now he's scheduled to work after sacrament meeting ends. We had a lesson yesterday with him about keeping the Sabbath holy. He took it really well. He's going to talk to human relations about the situation. If he still can't get Sundays off, he's going to quit Home Depot and go try to work at Lowe's, because apparently Lowe's recruits Home Depot employees and offers to pay a dollar more than Home Depot! Anthony's willing to do whatever it takes to get to church every week. We may have to postpone his baptism a week, but he's still on track. He has so much faith. Probably more than any investigator I've seen on my mission.
We also met with a new investigator named Noah yesterday. He's not really new, because he was taught several months ago, but he's new to us. He already has a pretty good testimony about the Restoration and Book of Mormon. He wants to be baptized, so we set a baptism date with him for Apr 24. The only hangup will be moving out from living with his girlfriend. He is unemployed but looking for work. As soon as he gets a job and gets his first payment, he will find a new place and move out ASAP. He doesn't really want to be with his girlfriend, but has to live there because he can't afford to go anywhere else. He is really solid though. He hasn't been able to go to church yet because his girlfriend demands he spend time with her, but he loves going to Institute when he's not working and meeting with us at the Institute when his girlfriend is gone. I think he'll be just fine.
We haven't been able to meet with Jolie, Ralph, and Roe this past week, but we did have one great lesson with Alex and Angie. We taught the Restoration using cups as an object lesson illustrating the church, apostasy, and restoration. They loved the lesson and were able to pay lots of attention. They even had two non-member friends with them that joined in and had a good time. We interrupted play day for the lesson but by the end, they didn't seem to mind!
Things are going well here. We're staying busy and happy. Our zone is doing great and had another fantastic week. We have great missionaries in our zone--there are no weak points.
Rumor has it that an apostle will be visiting our mission within a couple of months. This will replace traditional zone conference next transfer. We're really excited! We don't know who it is yet, though.
I hope things are going well with all of you. It's Miracle March so make it a good month!