Saturday, July 31, 2010

July 27, 2010

We are having lots of fun. We have a baptism that will hopefully be this Saturday with Roberto, who is one of the friendliest people I have ever met. He told us when we were meeting with him, "Our house is you elders' house. If you're hungry, we have food. If you're thirsty, we have water." Hopefully Eric will be getting baptized this Saturday too. Everyone here is so friendly. They always offer you food, even when they don't have a lot. We had tomales yesterday, and some delicious helotes, which is just a cob of corn covered in cheese, cream, mayonnaise, and chile powder (which are amazing). Everything is really good, and everything is served with tortillas.

With President and Sister Cook on the day he arrived in California.

July 20, 2010

Dear Family,

Hello from California! I am loving it out here. I am in the city of Escondido (serving in the Las Posas ward)--which means, from what I hear, that this area is one of the hottest in the mission (it isn't by the beach). My first companion is Elder Snyder, from Salt Lake City. I love it here. Everything is so nice looking. There are palm trees everywhere. Elder Snyder is apparently one of the hardest workers in the mission, from what people told me on transfer day--which is true. On our way to the first lesson that I would teach, Elder Snyder told me that I was going to be inviting her (Areceli) to be baptized (she accepted). So I definitely got to hit the ground running, and we haven't stopped yet. I've gotten to eat some amazing carne asada (steak) and [surprisingly good] chincarron (fried pig skin, sometimes served hot and soft). My companion has been trying to get me to try people's "chile" (hot sauce/peppers), because he says it will loose my tongue. On Saturday night, I ate an habaƱero pepper in one bite. It was the biggest mistake of my life. My mouth felt like it was on fire, and once I swallowed it, I felt like I had a fire in my chest. It hurt so bad that I was sweating and crying. The members we were eating with were just laughing at this dumb little white kid who thought he could eat a whole habaƱero pepper. I didn't feel completely right the rest of the night. That is definitely something I will refrain from doing in the future....

We are teaching a lot of great people. It's amazing how friendly everyone here is. I got to meet a man named Arturo who was baptized two weeks ago, and when we went, he actually asked us for a Pearl of Great Price so he could look up the cross-references in the triple combination! So we found him one, and you can tell he is devouring it. We took him on a teaching appointment with us, and when he was bearing his testimony, he patted it gently and said "Este es un gran tesorro" (This is a great treasure) and on the way back he said "Soy un hombre rico" (I am a rich man). It's amazing how much he loves the Church. We are also teaching a girl named Nieves, who has an amazing testimony. You can tell in our lessons that she just wants to learn more and more.

Last night, when we were trying to find someone we had met on the street (in an apartment complex), we walked by an open door with kids playing out front, and as we just kept going by, the kids started following us. After a little bit, we realized that they weren't going to stop, so we turned around to bring them back to their apartment, and talked to their mom and set up an appointment to go teach them the first lesson! It's truly amazing, that we wouldn't have even stopped to talk to them, or even given that room a second thought, if the kids hadn't started following us for no reason. Another time, we were stopping by a former investigator, and as we were leaving we felt like we should go knock some doors on the other side of the street. So we did, and about the fifth door we knocked was a lady with two kids, and we started talking about families and how they can be together forever (this was in English, by the way), and she accepted a return appointment, saying that when we started talking about families, something just "clicked" for her because her grandpa had just died, and she had to explain all that stuff to her kids (who were like 4,5). It was amazing.

On a funnier note, we were teaching a man outside an apartment complex who seemed really interested. We started talking to him, and he seemed really interested in talking to us, because he said he was familiar with the Book of Mormon, and that he doesn't drink or smoke, and that his wife's family has a lot of Latter-day Saints, and that he thought we could help him have a better life. So, we sat down and started teaching him about prayer and the Book of Mormon, and about 10-15 minutes into the lesson, he said something about how he forgot to turn his oven off and that he would be right back. He ran off, and we never saw him again. We waited about 20 minutes, went up to his apartment (he wasn't there), and then left. It was bizarre, but really funny.

Everything is going great, and I love it here! We have already been able to talk to a borracho (drunk), so I guess it is true what our MTC teachers said--drunks are just inexplicably attracted to missionaries. Oh, and guess what else? One of the elders in my district is named Elder Dieter! He is from Massachusetts, but he says his family comes from Pennsylvania originally, and Germany before that! (so we are probably related).

From, Elder Gibbons
July 6, 2010

"This time next week I will be in California! It's so strange to think that I have already been in the MTC for almost two months. I realized the other day just how much I have learned since I arrived! In our second week, we started doing Referral Center calls in Spanish and, I have to admit, I was a bit discouraged. I didn't understand barely anything of what anyone I talked to said in the first few calls. Now, nine weeks later, in the RC I made calls entirely in Spanish for an hour and a half. I talked to one woman for almost 25 minutes about the Church and the Bible and she agreed to have missionaries visit her. I talked to another man for almost 20 minutes and he agreed to the same. I can always understand my teachers almost perfectly, and I am getting better and better everyday at speaking. I can read scriptures in Spanish, and understand them! I have definitely felt the power of the gift of tongues, and I can tell, like the quote says (Neal A. Maxwell?), "Whom the Lord calls, He qualifies." I am so excited to get out to California and teach the Gospel."

Thursday, July 29, 2010

BYU roommates together again! – Elders Jones (to Texas), Wade (to Canada), Pence (to Salt Lake City), Gibbons (to California) and Harbison (to Mozambique). Elder Miller is in the Guatemala MTC.

MTC Companions – Elders Zebley (Pennsylvania to Argentina), Rasband (Arizona to Mexico) and Gibbons (Virginia to California).

With a hometown friend, Elder Evan Zhou (going to Canada).

With his MTC district in front of the famous world map.

Happy to be heading to California!

In front of the Provo Temple.
“The mission presidents' seminar was really fun, because all the members of the Twelve and the First Presidency were here at various times throughout the week. My companions and I got to shake Elder Nelson's hand!”

“All the Carlsbad missionaries got to meet with President and Sister Cook for an hour after the devotional on Friday. They were so nice. I felt like I was getting adopted for two years.”