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.