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  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.
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!
I hope all is going well for you. We've had a good week here.
On Saturday we have a two-hour mission conference, with Elder Russell M Nelson, President Donald L. Hallstrom, and Elder Allan Haynie (area) down in Carlsbad. It's going to be awesome! I've been asked to play piano for a singing quartet as a special musical number and I'm scared to death because I don't play piano. I've been practicing for a couple weeks during lunch and dinners when we don't have appointments. I think it might be okay, but I'll need some help! Luckily I'm just the background and not the forefront, so my mistakes will be covered a little bit. The "jitter" factor will be tough, having 2 general authorities there, with at least one area authority, and all their wives.... Not to mention the entire Carlsbad mission. If I was on trombone I'd be fine, but piano is my third instrument and not very good...
Anyway, we also have two Leadership Training Mtgs in Vista and Carlsbad tomorrow and Thursday. So much of our proselyting time is going down the toilet this week, plus our weekly planning. The schedule is like having 4 1/2 PDays in a week. Sounds about right for zone leaders... Plus we had to pick up two zones worth of mail yesterday down in San Clemente. We'll be doing that once a week now. At least we get our mail before everyone else does! Neither of us got mail yesterday though so we just picked up everyone else's good fortune.
So we finally picked up another legitimate investigator for the family ward yesterday. Her name is Bella, from the Phillipines. She's a full-time caretaker for an elderly lady in our ward, Nani , who is also from the Phillipines. Bella lives with Priscilla and her family M-F, and lives with her daughter on the weekends somewhere else. So getting her to church will be a challenge. But she's really pure in heart and wants to learn more about God. She accepted to be baptized and we have set a date for May 19. Nani Priscilla is an awesome missionary and is super bold, so that was fun. We're working on getting her a Book of Mormon in Tagalog and Pompagenazjopasd however you spell/say it.
Noah didn't show up to church this week. We're getting a little frustrated with him because he's letting his girlfriend completely control his life. We had a church tour with him last week and he was really excited to come. Our next lesson will be about agency...
Alex and Angie are out of town this week with their grandma.
We picked up two new investigators for the singles ward this week. Bobby used to meet with missionaries a couple years ago but had a really hard time keeping commitments. We'll do what we can to help him. We also picked up Darrell, from Delaware. He's known in his complex as the "straight arrow" as well as his roommate Jason. They don't smoke or drink or smoke weed (a huge problem in CA..) and don't mess around with girls. He's about to get out of the USMC this month and will return to DE when he's done. We taught him about the Restoration and he's planning on coming to church soon. He's a good guy and has a sweet accent. I didn't know Delawarish people had accents. Mike and Tara probably know that.
In case you were wondering, I didn't actually get on facebook last Saturday. The Church had a 3-day advertising campaign on mormon.org, where anyone could go and leave comments on the page bearing their testimony of the Savior. We found that upon doing so, we had to sign into facebook or emails, so President Cook let us do that just so we could leave comments, then sign back out.
I hope you all had a great week. I can't think of much else to say. If you have questions, let me know.
Elder Rupp survived Groundhog Day and will stay in Mission Viejo 6 more weeks. I'm staying too, obviously. But, we still have to trek down to Carlsbad for the transfer meeting because apparently zone leaders are important and need to be at meetings. I've also been asked to play the piano again for the meeting, so that should be fun. I hope I don't destroy the songs. I'm not sure where these people get the idea that I'm a good piano player. Next transfer meeting (since I'll probably play again) I'll probably play on the organ. I've been working on learning the organ when we have free time.
General Conference was great! I've enjoyed it on my mission even a little more than before. We watch it at the stake center for each session, with the rest of the zone. It's always refreshing to hear from the prophets and general leaders, and to receive instruction on how to improve our lives and relationships. I'm a little upset that I missed singing with the Salt Lake Institute choir in Priesthood, but I'm sure another opportunity will come around in the future. Among the talks I learned the most from (that I can remember off the top of my head) were President Hallstrom, President Rasband, Elder Christofferson, Elder Bednar, Elder Scott, and some others. The Spirit is especially strong when President Monson speaks. I always listen even more intently and learn more when he speaks.
We picked up two new investigators last week--Johnny, and Julio. They are both YSA ward investigators. Johnny lives in our family ward area, and Julio lives in a small, dense city called Ladera Ranch. Ladera Ranch is a lot like Daybreak, Utah. Lots and lots of young families and very quick growth. The Ladera Ranch elders tell us that there are two nurseries in both the Ladera Ranch wards! There are lots of "J" names we're working with and two "Johnny"s so we've called this Johnny "Johnny Lingo" until we figure out his real last name. He is dating an inactive member that we've never heard of. Johnny has wondered a lot about why there are so many churches, and wants to learn more about ours. We read a lot out of the Book of Mormon last lesson, and we requested that tomorrow's lesson be out of the Old Testament. So, we will! I've learned that all of our lessons can be completely taught out of any of the sections of the standard works. We're going to try to bend it back to the Book of Mormon though. Julio has met with missionaries before and had a girlfriend who goes to Saddleback Church (the "great and abominable church" around Mission Viejo) feed him anti-Mormon info that gave him problems. He's still open to learning though, and has set a baptism date for May 5, pending he has a witness of the truth by then.
We had another lesson with Alex and Angie that went great, about prophets. We had Angie blindfolded and Alex was her guide (prophet) that led her to a present we gave them. Then we taught about President Monson and other prophets.
I can't think of many other fun or funny stories from the week. I know there were some, but I usually fail to write them down in my planner when I come to email on Tuesdays.
I'll send pictures of Carlsbad someday. Hopefully within the next week or so. We'll see what happens.