Hello family! I hope you're all having a great week!
On the way to the library I had a major brain blank and I'm having a hard time remembering what all happened this week. I'll tell you what I do remember.
On Thursday we had a leadership training meeting down in Vista. Invited were all the zone leaders, district leaders, and "important" sister missionaries. I don't know how else to describe the sisters. Several things were discussed, including how to have more effective and efficient weekly planning sessions (they take a few hours every week), accountability between each other (President Cook had me do a role play with him for a Sunday-night call in and report for the week), and accountability through key indicators (numbers). It was a good meeting with lots of things learned for everyone. There were 5 of us elders and 2 sisters from our zone that went, so we grabbed the minivan that the Ladera Ranch elders use and I drove everyone down to the meeting! It was weird to drive a van! A couple weeks ago on exchanges with Elder Neil, one of the assistants, he had me drive their Chevy Silverado, which was awesome! It made our Fusion feel small, which it really isn't that small. Anyway.. On the way back we got some mail for our zone. I got more mail then than the last 6 months combined! (which is okay, don't worry. It doesn't matter very much at this point). I got a birthday card from the Cooks, an info letter from the office (zone leader stuff), a mass letter from a sister in my MTC district to all the elders, and a letter from Elder Bailey. Apparently Brother Vigil, one of my favorite members from Carlsbad, passed away recently. That was pretty sad to hear. It's okay though, he is with his wife now, and is probably herding all the goats he wants to! (that was the heaven he imagined!)
What else...We taught a new investigator in the singles ward on Sunday named Claire. She met a member about 4 weeks ago and he invited her to church, and she has now been 3 times, and is liking the Church so far. We're starting on the basics for her. She grew up semi-Christian, lost a belief in God, and now is starting to believe in a higher being again. She's had several what she calls "God moments" where she feels something (the Spirit) very strongly that it makes her want to cry. She told us that in her few times at church, that we were "shattering all the stereotypes" that the general population think of. She told us she was there just to listen to us, and we kinda stared for a moment and said "well we're not here to lecture to you a presentation of our religion!" She got really excited and said "you guys are SO much better than everyone makes you out to be!" All her previous understanding of Mormons came from South Park (many people say that).
On Sunday we had a cool sacrament meeting in the YSA ward. Elder Haynie, the area seventy (the Esco stake president when I was there) came to speak, along with his secretary, the stake presidents from Mission Viejo and Rancho Santa Margarita stakes, and President and Sister Cook (the Cooks went to the previous sacrament meeting and weren't going to stay for ours, but we convinced them to stay. Naturally, they were invited to speak too!) I took good notes on what was said. The highlight was Elder Haynie talking about how the temple is what is going to hold us members to the Gospel in these days when many things will not. He promised if we attend the temple regularly, we will not step far from the path before the Spirit brings us back.
We had FHE with Jason and Ashley last night. They're making some good steps lately. For our activity, Jason had us all write a card to his cousin who is a year into his mission in Indonesia. They hadn't written him yet, and only saw him on Skype once. It was interesting writing someone I had never met! But it was a good experience anyway. Their little boy Malakai was a spaz, a little more than usual. Ashley made us some of her famous peach cobbler! It was so yummy! The last time I had peach cobbler was when she made it for us in Vista.
That's about it for now. We've been having a bunch of small experiences but no big highlights. I've been doing a lot better keeping my journal lately so if I forgot anything I'll tell you later!
I hope you've all had a great week. We had a good week here.
We've had 2 good lessons with Patrick this week, but we'll have to pass him off to a family ward in Foothill Ranch this week because he's only 17. Mason and his cousins have been doing a great job in missionary work!
Shari  came to church this week!!! She didn't make it for sacrament, but came for the last half of Sunday school and then to Relief Society. Sis Chambers said she looked happy and participated in RS. We are so glad! Shari said she had a good time. It was her first time back to church in Mission Viejo in several years.
We had a lesson with Anthony  on Friday. He said he's going to move his goal up to quit smoking on July 5 instead of July 16. The first thing he said when we came in was "I'm sick of smoking. Last night I had my last cigarette and I'm done now." He knows it's going to be really rough for the next little while but he's willing to use his agency and get it done! We also finally met with Josh , who is a fairly recently-returned member. He's a pretty funny guy. Probably going to play football at the U of U next year. He's been recruited a lot by the coaches. We taught the restoration and talked about modern day prophets. He's going to invite his friend Chris to the next lesson.
July 4th was a weird day. We started with district meeting in Ladera Ranch. Elder Satuala had me trip through the national anthem on the piano even though I couldn't play it very well. I was happy to see more American flags out in the streets compared to Vista last year, but still wasn't like Utah will all the Scout flags everywhere! (There is a lady pacing quickly back and forth behind me, it's really weird) All of our lessons cancelled and it was useless to tract, so we stopped by a couple member families before they went to the beach, and tried to talk to other people barbequing and such. At night, Ladera Ranch had some concert going on, but for the most part, it was quiet around town. At dark, most cities around had a firework show, but we didn't have a good view of any shows. I got what I could on camera, but it wasn't great. When we got into bed, Elder Mason pulled out some patriotic poems that he has like the Midnight Ride of Paul Revere and others, and read them. Then we looked at different scriptures that talk about America or the Constitution. It was a good Independence Day!
I played organ in church again this week. That'll probably be the last week I do it. We'll see, I guess. I've already used both sacrament hymns I know twice each.
I went on an exchange with Elder McLelland (Ogden) yesterday. He was in my district in Vista and is a very excited and enthusiastic person. We had a lot of fun. We tried by a former investigator, who showed us his decades-old corvette that he has restored. After showing us everything, we taught him a short version of the Restoration using the analogy of restoring a car with all of its engine parts, oil, car parts, and everything that goes with that. It was a really cool analogy. He wasn't interested though.
That's about it for this week. I hope y'all have a great week. If you have any questions for me, let me know
I hope you're all having a good week! I've heard more 4th of July talk on the emails than I have in the past 2 weeks combined down here! It's just not a big deal down here, which is sad. I hope you have a happy and safe 4th. Don't cause any more fires in Utah! I hope y'all get to breathe soon.
We had a bunch of things happen this week. We were busy! I'll try to mention the better highlights.
These are in no particular chronological order.
We got a referral from Elder Zarate (my MTC companion) and his companion for a couple of guys. One of them had an appointment set up and we found out later they wanted to meet us at the RSM Calvary Chapel. Reluctantly, we went to the church and had a lesson there with them. One's name was James and the other was Christian. I had met Christian a few months ago on Saddleback college's campus and had a lengthy discussion with him. They were nice, but difficult to keep on topic. They didn't bash or argue, but asked lots of questions and of course disputed some points. The unique thing they did that most born-agains don't is that Christian came with a triple combination and read some references in the BoM and D&C. They interpreted some verses wrong but at least they tried to read our own books. We weren't going to set up a return appointment unless they asked, which they did, so we'll meet with them again next week at our church.
There were a bunch of families that moved this week, including the Allans (our ward mission leader), the Lippards, and a couple other families. It took a few people out of the ward council, and Sister Moorhead, the RSP, is without counselors. She felt pretty overwhelmed. So we visited her house yesterday and volunteered to be her "counselors" (helping to visit people) until there are new ones. She was very grateful!
A few days ago we contacted a couple that was walking into an apartment. Tiffany was from England and had no idea what Latter-day Saints or Mormons were. She had grown up atheist and has run into a lot of JW missionaries in England that she didn't like. She had a ton of questions, some of which her boyfriend answered, and most of which we answered. She wanted to sit down and talk about it, and the nearest place was the curb in the parking lot. I sat on the asphalt and we talked about a bunch of her questions. She was really confused that we were 20/21 and didn't think it would be fun to drink and smoke and stay up every night and have fun with girls, etc. Everything she mentioned that she did for fun was contrary to at least some commandment. As we talked together, she said "you don't do anything that other young people do. You're so innocent and so happy!" She started crying, and we continued to talk until their friends came back to bring her to the apartment to party. She is going back to England in a few days so we can't teach her, but we sure made an impact.
On my exchange with Elder Neil in Vista we experienced a few small miracles. We were trying to see an LA lady that had a gate around her house. She wasn't home, and there wasn't anything we could do except pray that she would have some reason to come outside. A few minutes later, her husband pulled in, and the dog ran outside barking, so she had to leave the house to chase him. We then got to talk to her and set up an appointment and got her phone number. Later on, we taught a less-active lady and brought an investigator named Scott to be our 3rd male. We watched a video on mormon.org and it ended up touching Scott a lot more than Sister Corbo. He started crying during that video and the next one and had more determination to be more diligent in reading scriptures and going to church.
We had zone leader council and transfers last week. We got 8 new missionaries and 2 of the 3 district leaders are brand new. There is a lot of excitement across the zone and stake and good things should be happening! We had a record amount of investigators at church this week in our zone.
That's about it for now. Elder Mason finished early and is really bored and is pestering me to finish. We've begun to get a bunch of referrals in both wards. We're finally seeing some results from a lot of hard work during slow months and weeks.
I hope you have a great week and happy 4th of July!