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 . 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
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 '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 '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 . 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 , 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!
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 , 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.
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.
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.