Tuesday, June 26, 2012

26 June 2012

Hello family!
I hope you've all had a great week.  We've had a good week here. 
Transfers are today in Vista, not the usual Carlsbad.  Neither Elder Mason or I are getting transferred.  But all the other companionships in our zone, except for the Spanish sisters, have a missionary going home or getting transferred, including all 3 of our district leaders.  We'll be getting a lot of new people to work with!
Also, I've been asked again to play organ at the transfer meeting.  And sacrament meeting the next two weeks.  Wish me luck!  I'm excited for Vista because they have a pull-stop organ like the conference center and not just a button organ like most of them.  It doesn't have 5 keyboards though, only two.
We've had good lessons with some people this week.  We reviewed the Word of Wisdom with Anthony.  He's been struggling with smoking again, but is cutting back.  He made a promise with God that if God helped him get up quickly in the morning and have an awake mind, he wouldn't start the day with the cigarette.  So it turns out he has had the opening shift at Home Depot almost every day for the past 2-3 weeks!  On Wednesday he was praying for help so he could come to FHE on Monday, and when the prayer was over, he got a text from a co-worker asking if Anthony could switch shifts with them, clearing up Monday night!  Anthony has a stronger testimony of prayer than most people I've met!  He always always gets an answer!
There has been a bunch of families in our ward that are moving the past couple weeks and this week.  One of them, the Lippards, will be moving to southwest Lehi.  We visited them to get some last-minute referrals, and found out they are a SUPER missionary family.  We are having all sorts of regrets that we didn't visit them earlier.  We've decided to visit a lot more families to not make the same mistake again.  They'll be inviting a friend and us over for dinner on Thursday, then they'll pack on Friday and move Saturday.  Found out last night too, that Brother Allan, our ward mission leader, and his family will be moving within the next couple of weeks to Yorbalinda (sp?) and will probably have to be released.  They put their house on the market a few months ago to check and see what offers they could get, and it just sold.  They'll be living in his parents' vacant house in Yorbalinda until at least October, then they hope to come back to Mission Viejo.  But for now, they'll be attending a ward up there.  Elder Mason and I are pretty unhappy about that, since both of us will be gone by the time they move back, but happy for them!  So we'll probably get a new ward mission leader soon.
On Saturday we had a zone fast for baptisms in the mission.  Last week President Cook texted all the zone leaders and said we've NEVER had such a low month in baptisms in the mission, and to make plans to make it better.  Sunday night, right after our fast, we had a lesson with Alex and Angie for the first time in a few weeks.  Their other grandma, Paula--who just moved in there a few weeks ago (yes, they and their two grandmas live in the same house) has borrowed their copy of the Book of Mormon and has been reading it.  She knows it's good and has been really interested in learning about the Church.  She told us yesterday ( when we helped them load and pack stuff for their month-long trip to San Jose) that she wants to be baptized when Alex and Angie get baptized.  We are pretty excited!  I won't be around for that when it happens, since there will only be a week between the time they get back from SJ and I go home, but the important thing is that they'll get baptized.
Later Sunday night, we went to the Peel's house for [edit] Peel's farewell open house.  We're really close to the Peel family and especially to Matt.  We've taken him out on many appointments.  He's going to enter the MTC in a week and a half to learn French and go to the Lyon, France Mission.  We're really excited for him!  Jordan [edit], another kid we've been working with has his mission call to Brisbane, Australia and leaves in October (he's cousins with Jackson and Jared [edit] from THS band.  Camille might know them).  It's been fun to work with soon-to-be missionaries and watch them go through the same mental process I did!
Well that's about all the time I have this week.  I hope y'all have a great week!
Elder La Follette

Monday, June 18, 2012

18 June 2012

Hello family!  I hope you're doing well.
We've had a really hard time getting a hold of people this week, so there's not a lot to report on our lessons, but we've had a good week.  We finally got to meet with Juan [edit] again.  He just had 3 or 4 beers for Father's Day (holidays here don't have much to do with what we're celebrating, it's more for the fact that we are celebrating something) and came in to take a rest when we caught him home.  He was about to call his priest from church for more advice on his struggling marriage with Irma.  He's trying very hard to be a good father and from what I've observed, is a very good father and tries to be a great husband.  It is hardly reciprocated by Irma and she is trying for a divorce, despite his efforts.  We read part of the Family Proclamation with him and he was listening intently.  We promised him that the Gospel would help his marriage and family more than any advice that he's getting from mutual friends and self-help books and DVDs.  I hope we can meet with him more consistently.
We met with 2 new investigators last night, who Mason [edit] also invited to meet with us.  He's leaving on his mission to Barcelona in August and is already a fantastic missionary!  We're doubtful whether we'll get to keep teaching his two friends Kaitlyn and Patrick because Patrick is 17 (not a YSA) and Kaitlyn lives just outside the zone, but if that's the case, we'll pass them to other missionaries.  They accepted baptism on the condition they find out the Book of Mormon is true.  Kaitlyn's mother is a devout Catholic, so that might be a roadblock, but we'll work with that once we get to that point.  Thomas couldn't meet this week due to his birthday and Father's Day activities and we won't be able to see him until after he gets back from his mission trip to Rwanda in the beginning of July.  We'll make sure he takes his Book of Mormon with him to read.  We're praying really hard that he doesn't trip up on his mission trip and still decides to read the Book of Mormon when he goes and comes back.  Much of what they're doing down there is finding and teaching the Rwandans and helping them accept Christianity and building up some churches with them.
Other stories from the week...
I was asked again to play the organ in sacrament meeting.  I'm learning songs quicker now, which is nice.  I'm having fun playing the organ in different meetings.  The regular organist should be back this next Sunday.  Bro McAffee told me to thank Mom for making me take piano lessons.  I smiled and said I would... [Editor's note: Elder LaFollette has never taken a piano lesson in his life]
What else... We tried knocking on the door of someone who hadn't been to church in years, and were trying to meet him.  We were surprised when Bro Franks answered the door, the dad of an active family from Bountiful that just moved into the ward, and who we were supposed to meet with the previous night, but didn't go over (we were going to cancel, but we didn't have their phone number!) because something came up.  He kindly invited us in and said they hadn't expected us tonight, but last night.  We told him what happened, but didn't say we didn't mean to knock on their door right then!  After getting to know them and having a good conversation, Bro Franks asked if we could share a lesson for the kids, which Elder Mason did a great job of improvising, and I went along with it.  We do a lot of impromptu lessons, but this one was a lot more stressful than they usually are, but it worked out.  This might be a "it's only funny if you were there" story but I thought I'd share it anyway.
Uhh.... we helped a guy move this week named Eddie.  We talked to him a couple days before and he mentioned he was moving, and we persisted to offer help.  Eventually he said we could come help, but didn't seem to expect us to.  Saturday came, and he wasn't where he said he'd be, so we talked to other people in the complex.  After a couple hours, we saw him moving stuff out of his garage with an LDS friend of his, and we went to help.  It was a simple task and was no real inconvenience for us, but he was very grateful and kept telling us we didn't have to be there if we didn't want to.  At the end of the move, we were standing drinking water and he asked a bunch of questions about missionaries, to us and to his friend, and said he'd look up the missionaries in the next place he was in.  It still amazes me how tiny acts of service that are no problem to us can touch someone else as much as it touched him.  All we did was move a small garage full of boxes to a medium U-Haul truck, but he was very grateful.
What else....  We got kicked out of an apartment complex again on Saturday night.  One of the guards was suspicious of us, and when he saw us a second time (we were actually breaking no rules of the complex) he kicked us out and accused us of lying and using our "practiced excuses".  It reminded me of how pathetic people are because one can usually safely assume that another person is lying to cover their bum.  There is a lot of dishonesty everywhere.  We pleaded our case but didn't fight back or argue, and eventually he said he would only need us to leave because there are a lot of cameras around and if another guard saw him talking to us, and then saw us knock on doors, then he would get in a lot of trouble.  He said he knew we were harmless and would much rather deal with us than the gangs around the complex.  Said he just needed to do his job, then kicked us out.  We were still pretty irritated, but we can't blame him.  So many other people are so dishonest it was probably a commonly safe thing for him to assume that other people were lying.  What was funny though, was as we were about to leave, he said "by the way, my name's Gervaine.  Good to meet you guys" which was pretty out of place in the conversation.
That's pretty much it for now.
Happy Birthday Camille!
I hope y'all have a great week
Elder La Follette

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

12 June 2012

Hello family!
I just realized that the days are passing by quicker than I can keep track of them.  I was trying to remember if it was June 8 or 9 today for my subject line, but it is in fact June 12.
We've had a good week, despite me having been sick most of the week.  I think I've had a cold, but who's to say.  Over the course of my mission, I've humbled myself and taken medicine when I'm sick, instead of thinking I'm too cool for it and will just take being sick.  Lo and behold, I feel better!  Who woulda thunk it?
We had interviews with President Cook on Friday, and this one was different than the usual "well how are things going?" "good." "how's your companion?" "he's doing well." "anything else you need?" "nope.'' "alright, let's bring in the next missionary!".  This time he said "Elder La Follette, in about 8 weeks we'll have an interview that will be significantly longer than this one.  Between now and then, I want you to use a personal study and set goals for the next year, and make plans to accomplish those goals.  We'll talk about those goals in the exit interview."  I imagine that will be a very "trunky" study.  I told him in the interview that I'm grateful for the assignment I have that keeps me busy enough to not think about going home hardly at all.  He laughed and said that's wonderful.  After that, he called in both me and Elder Mason to talk about the zone, it is was back to work as usual!
On Sunday the organist in the singles ward was late to the meeting so Bishop Beckstead asked me and Elder Mason if either of us could play prelude music on the piano.  Elder Mason of course volunteered me quickly, so I went up to play.  A few minutes later the first counselor Bro McAffee asked if I could play for sacrament meeting because the organist wasn't going to show up at all.  So, I got to play organ in sacrament meeting for the first time!  Luckily I had learned one of the sacrament hymns the day before, so I didn't do a terrible job.  The only wrinkle was that we needed to leave the meeting to go to ward council for the family ward, so Elder Mason ran up to the stand and said Dirk was my companion, then rushed off to ward council!  The first song was really slow because I didn't anticipate such a sound delay from the ward (even though transfer meeting was like that too), but the others were great.  Bishop decided I was good enough to play next week as well, so I just got volunteered to play next week in church too!
What else... I had an exchange this week with Elder Eames, one of the assistants, up here in Mission V.  On the exchange he helped me remember that as a leader in a more administrative position, sometimes I need to be more direct and blunt with people.  I've focused so much on ministering and working personally with people and getting down on their level and helping them, I had almost left out completely the part of my assignment that requires a directivity and things along those lines.  It was a good reminder.  We taught Thomas again and had a great lesson about the Priesthood.  We focused mostly on the Great Apostasy (which is one of my favorite subjects because it's so important), which helped him understand clearly the need to find an answer.  We asked him what it means to him and he said "well it means if it's true, then I better be Mormon!"  He forsees his family getting very upset and likely won't support him in college if he converts, and largely disowning him.  It would mean he would have to change colleges from his Christian ministry college he's planning on attending, to something else, and other things.  But he said despite all that, if he finds out it's true and decides it's true, then he will join the church anyway, and is considering serving a mission.  On Saturday he didn't feel he had an answer yet, and we decided to teach him about the Premortal Life, the Creation (which is actually an eye-opening to a lot of Christians.  They think God the Father created the earth by himself, but Christ created it under His direction.  it's in the Book of Mormon and the Bible.) Adam and Eve and the Fall.  We read a lot of 2nd Nephi 2 and talked about it pretty in depth, to his understanding.  He came away feeling what we talked about could be true, but was very different than what he had learned.  Between Saturday and last night, he read 2 Nephi 2 three more times with Mason Ming (his friend) and then finally it all clicked with him.  He also read as many verses in the Bible he could find on baptism, and then prayed for about 30 minutes about whether this was true and right.  He promised Heavenly Father if he got an answer he would join the Church despite all opposition.  He then said he had an undeniable warm feeling come over him, and even felt shaking, and knew he felt the Spirit.  He is very wary of going solely off feeling (as many born-agains are) but that was a very significant event for him and for us.  Last night we had a lesson about the Holy Ghost and how it works and why it is significant.  He is coming a long way.  I imagine he will be baptized within the month of July.
On exchanges on Friday in an adjacent ward with Elder Daniel, we taught a lady named Crystal, who has been investigating for about a year, and has had a hard time accepting baptism.  She is 34 and not married, and comes from a VERY Catholic family.  The members that were at the lesson helped a ton and really took over the lesson in a good way.  The wife, Sister Robertson, had an almost identical situation, and helped Crystal work through it.  Crystal also had a worry she wouldn't fit in a family-oriented church with her situation, but the Robertsons helped her out of that.  She has a testimony that the Book of Mormon is true and the Church is true.  She's scared out of her mind to tell her family she wants to join the church.  She's been wanting to put it off for a long time.  Elder Daniel suggested she pick a date for her baptism to help her tell her mom sooner.  She picked July 28.  It was a miracle that everything worked out how it did.  I love exchanges!  Miracles always happen on exchanges.
What else.. this is already a very long email.  We got a hold of Anthony on Sunday during our 3rd hour ward rescue effort in the YSA ward.  Bishop Beckstead sent us to see Anthony, our only assignment.  We got a hold of him, and he came back to Church with his girlfriend, and then to FHE last night.  The reason he didn't come was because he couldn't afford gas the rest of the week after paying his traffic ticket.  We offered him rides, and he'll be able to go.  Last night he told me he had a really intense prayer asking for forgiveness in being less valiant than he should.  After 15 min of prayer, he got in bed and received a text he'd been waiting for for weeks, telling him he got some money in his account he desperately needed!  He laughed at that and said he knows he needs to do better!
Well I'm out of time and the MV district wants their mail.  I hope y'all have a great week!
Elder La Follette

Friday, June 8, 2012

5 June 2012

Hello family!
I hope you all have had a great week.  Congratulations to Brad and Kelsey [edit] for their big day!  And happy birthday to Grandma La Follette.
We have had a good week in Mission Viejo.  I'll write about things as I remember them, and aren't in any particular order.
Yesterday we had a great lesson (finally) with Thomas [edit] at his friend Mason's house in Ladera Ranch.  He made it to their friend Keegan's farewell before he left for his mission in Africa last week, but wasn't able to make it to stake conference this Sunday (I'll talk about stake conference in a minute).  He has read the first 6 chapters of 1st Nephi and had some questions about Nephi killing Laban, so we talked about that for a while.  He's good on that now.  I've been reading in Judges lately in the Old Testament, which has some pretty gruesome stories about people killing others, so Nephi's story wasn't bad at all!  He is liking what he is seeing of the Church so far, and he had some questions about works vs. faith salvation.  After explaining how that all works, he said "wow, that makes a lot of sense.  You guys have a really bad reputation, you know that?  I feel bad for you guys!"  He doesn't see a big need to get baptized because he feels he's already made the covenant with God when he was baptized into his church.  He wanted a lesson about the significance of the Priesthood, so we'll do that on Wednesday.  He is planning on finishing the rest of 1st Nephi with Mason before the lesson.  Hopefully it goes well!  He is planning on coming to church this week.
On Sunday night we had an appointment with Melissa [edit], a girl that Bishop Beckstead sent us to visit.  None of us knew her, and assumed she was less-active.  After talking with her for a while, we found she was in fact active and was wondering why we were there teaching her!  My tummy kept grumbling really loud (after our huge potato dinner) so that didn't help the awkwardness of the lesson much!  But we laughed about it and talked about missionary work.  She is a convert to the church and actually had a cool story.  Her family growing up was very Catholic, especially her mother.  They knew Latter-day Saints and admired them and fed missionaries but never investigated.  One night her mom had a dream that Jesus Christ was in the neighborhood visiting all the homes and families in the neighborhood.  She was very excited for His visit and cleaned up the house and eagerly awaited the visit.  When He was done with the house next door, He passed up their house and went to the next.  Confused, she called to Him and asked why He didn't come to their house.  He replied "because you are not a part of my Church."  She woke up and was troubled.  The missionaries knocked on the house the next day, and they were baptized into the Church 4 weeks later. 
Stake Conference was this week.  There were no General Authorities visiting this time.  There were fantastic talks by several people that I wish I had time to tell you about.  The speakers were the Stake President, the 2nd Counselor, the Newport Beach Temple President Draney and his wife, a youth speaker, the stake patriarch, and one other lady from the Relief Society presidency.  The Spirit was very strong throughout and everyone that I talked to about it had a very powerful experience.  The choir did a great job as well.  I've learned that California stake choirs are fabulous everywhere.  We didn't get to go to the adult session on Saturday because Shari [edit] backed out last minute due to wardrobe issues....  We were pretty frustrated.  It had already been a very long day with several appointments falling through.  Apparently President and Sister Cook spoke there.  From the sounds of it, they gave a talk (they speak together) nearly identical to the one they gave last year in the Vista stake conference.  I don't blame them, having to work with 180 missionaries and 10 stakes.  There's not a lot of time to prepare everything to make it all original.
This morning we went to Fountain Valley, in the north end of Orange County, out of the mission.  Elder Mason had an appointment with Dr. Mortensen, a dentist from our ward who offered to treat him for free.  I don't know if we're related to him.  I haven't talked with Bro Mortensen long enough to find out!  It was pretty fun to take a "long" road trip up there for that.  It's been a while since I've driven anywhere of significant distance, other than Carlsbad or Vista.  President Cook had to get permission from Salt Lake for us to go, but we were authorized.  No where else would treat him for cheap, much less free, so that was a big blessing.  While I was in the waiting room, the Mission Viejo Institute director, Bro Greiner, came in for an appointment, along with our ward mission leader's wife, Sister Allan.  It was like we didn't go anywhere!
As for others in our teaching pool, we finally got to meet with Bella yesterday.  She was way too busy cooking to sit down, so we just got to talk to Nani [edit] for a little bit before we left.  Bella said she's too busy to take lessons from us, and that Jackie [edit], Priscilla's visiting teacher, will teach her about the Church instead.  So we talked to Sister Anderson later and we're going to go with her to teach Bella!
We haven't heard much from Anthony [edit] recently, which is getting us worried.  The only time we've heard from him in the last 15 days, he texted yesterday and said he'd come to FHE, but didn't.  Hopefully we'll get to see him soon.
Don't know if I mentioned or not, but Floree moved out of the zone, and we dropped Noah from the teaching pool, since we can't ever get a hold of him anymore.
Uhh...what else..  Elders Neil and Eames (the Assistants) came to our comp study yesterday and talked about how things are going here.  They've been visiting all the zone leaders' comp studies.
We've been meeting with all the companionships in our zone and trying to help them get things going in working with their ward councils.  Not done yet, but it will have to take a lot of time.  It will be worth it though, I think.
I went on a companion exchange last week with Elder Gardner, a fairly new Spanish missionary.  He has a lot of fire and is having a lot of fun with his mission.  He has a really good companion, Elder Josse, and they are working very hard together.  Elder Gardner grey-shirted for BYU football his freshman year and is looking to play as a long-snapper when he gets back, and after a red-shirt.  Luckily, he wasn't anti-Utah so we got along pretty well.  He's from Idaho Falls as well, and was on Elder Mason's football team at IFHS.  They didn't know each other super well though, being two years apart.
Uhh, that's all I can think of for now.  We're super busy and doing a lot of stuff.  We're certainly never bored and we're having a great time.
I'll try to tell you more about the less-actives and recent converts we're teaching next week.
Y'all have a good one now
Elder La Follette