Sunday, October 31, 2010

October 26, 2010

Querida familia,

Everything is going absolutely amazing here. The heat has finally left, and it has been in the 60s all week. Today is 60 and sunny, so it is basically an amazing day in California. We've been eating a lot of great food, and we even got to help someone vacuum their carpet this week (the boiler in their garage exploded and got everything wet).

Everything is going great with the family I wrote about last week. We were having trouble helping her progress towards baptism, but since the ward helped her and invited her to the Family Home Evening and everything, it's a whole new story. She came to church again (second week in a row), went to a Family Home Evening at the Primary president's house, and her daughter and the Primary President's daughter are basically best friends. Everyone in our ward loves their family. The smallest little boy (1.5 year old) in that family, Bryan, has become my best friend as well. Whenever we go over to their house, as soon as I come in the gate (it's almost like he senses me come in), he goes running to get me a chair, and he pulls the chair over to where I am (sometimes, I'm just barely closing the front gate to the yard). After I sit down, he runs (literally, runs--it's like an emergency to him) inside and grabs me a can of Sprite, and then runs with every ounce of energy he has to give it to me. After he gets me all that, he calms down a little and pulls up a chair next to me and sits down. (Note: he never gets Elder Silva anything, which is perhaps the funniest part of all). Last night at the Family Home Evening, he kicked his mom and older sister off the coach and then made me sit by him.

My companion just had the wreck of the century this morning--I guess his brakes locked up or something, because we were stopping at an intersection, and all of a sudden he flew off his bike and landed face-first, and even slid a few feet down the street. A lady who saw it was really concerned about him, and I was laughing so hard. He was laying face-down in the middle of the intersection like he was dead, with his bike in a heap behind him, and his missionary nametag and his pass-along cards and his pen scattered around him on the street. He wasn't hurt, but it was hilarious. I'm laughing as I'm typing this.

My first week as a district leader has been busy. I guess my days of having time at night to write in my journal and eat snacks are basically gone--I've been having to call people every night and fill out reports. I've been having to do exchanges with a couple elders in our district, and I have been amazed (shocked) at how much paper work is involved in being a district leader. My head has been spinning all this week, but it has also been a lot of fun. At the very least, (since I got assigned in the middle of a transfer and didn't go to the new district leader training meeting they have at the beginning of the transfer), the Zone Leaders came and gave me training in my apartment, and (best of all) brought In-N-Out.

Well, that's all for now. Enjoy your week!

Sincerely,
Elder Gibbons

October 26,2010

"I discovered the worst part about riding bikes in the rain last week."
October 19, 2010

Querida familia,

Well, another week has flown by here in Escondido. Everything is going great. We are working hard and finding and teaching a lot of great people. We found an investigator last week who is amazing. She's going to be baptized on the 20th of November. We have also found some really great other investigators who were really interested in the Church and the Book of Mormon (two of them, a couple, we have been trying to get a hold of for four weeks). We had some amazing posoli last night (sort of a chicken soup with giant corn and limes) with mole (thick, spicy gravy made with chile peppers).

One of our investigators, who we have been working with for about a month finally came to Church on Sunday and loved it. The member giving her the ride back to her house after found out that she and her family (7 in total) didn't have much food. The member talked to the Elder's Quorum President and the Relief Society President, and by the end of Sunday night, the Elder's Quorum President and his wife had brought over a ton of food to the investigator and her family, and invited her to bring her family over to their Family Home Evening on Monday night. The next day, other people in the ward brought over even more food, and later that night, she and her family loved the Family Home Evening. It was amazing to see how fast the entire ward pitched in to help somebody that they had only really seen once, not even a member, who was in need. It's so great that the wards in our Church are truly like a family.

We had our once-a-transfer breakfast at the stake president's house, and it turns out that his family, the Haynies, are all from Mannasa, Colorado (I think that's the same town that Grandma Bob's family is from). Also, at the breakfast, I met a missionary who was just transferred into our stake named Elder Decker, and as we were talking he looked at my nametag and asked, "Elder Gibbons, where are you from?" And I told him Virginia, and he asked, "You aren't related to any Gibbons in Buena Vista, are you? I knew a Brittany Gibbons from Buena Vista." It was cool to find an elder who knew my cousin. Small world.

Well, I guess the only other news I have will probably come as big a shock to you all as it did to me. Everyone in our district had our regular once-a-quarter interviews with President Cook last Wednesday morning, and after Elder Kendell's interview (our district leader) he and President Cook came in and announced that he was making an unusual change to the mission, and he was going to have three Assistants instead of two, and he was making Elder Kendell an Assistant (even though we are only two weeks into the transfer). Then, when I had my interview with President Cook, I found out that me and Elder Silva are going to be co-senior companions, and I am going to be the new district leader. So, beginning today, I am the district leader here in our area. I have definitely been feeling small compared to my assignment the last few days, but I know that God will help me do what I need to do, just like He helped Nephi build the boat as he was building it in 1 Nephi 18.

Thank you so much!
Sincerely,
Elder Gibbons
October 12, 2010

Querida familia,

I can't believe that today is my 5 month mark. It has gone by way too fast. There isn't anything like being a missionary. We are having a great week here. It is going to be little hotter this week, but that's life. In a week from Friday, MarĂ­a will be getting baptized, so that should be great. In the last week, we had a recent convert move in our area from a different stake, a great family move into our area from a different stake, and a great investigator move into our area from a different stake. We have been able to find some great new investigators, and some...interesting....new investigators.

Everything is going great. We walked past a little pizza place last P-day, and it turns out the owner is a returned missionary from Tijuana, Mexica. So, we get free pizza there. I ran into this lady on the street a while back who was super tan and had dark hair, so I started talking to her in Spanish, and she yelled, "I'M NOT MEXICAN!" and got mad and left. It was pretty funny, but even better was two weeks later, my companion accidentally talked to the exact same lady, and got the exact same reaction.

I'm loving every minute of being a missionary. At district meeting yesterday, our zone leaders came and we did something a little different. We had a testimony-type meeting where every missionary in the district got up and told why they came on a mission, and also why they are here (sort of like, why you're still here). It was great. Here is what I said:

"So, I came on a mission just because I always knew I would. It was something I always looked forward to, and my parents raised me to expect to go on a mission. It wasn't every really a question. My dad told me hilarious stories about his companions and his mission, and I always knew that I would go. I knew it was something I was supposed to do, and that was good enough for me. But I'm still here because I love being a missionary. I love everything about it. I love eating things that I wouldn't have even touched before my mission, and I love riding my bike up huge hills, and I love sweating so much that the inside of my shirt collars are brown at the end of the night, and I love having people get mad and insult you and try to argue with you on the street, and I love being the only white person in a room full of Mexicans. But most of all, I love the feeling that you get whenever you are at a baptism, and you watch someone that you have been working with come into the Gospel. There's nothing in the world like hearing your investigator bear their testimony after their baptism. So, I came on my mission because I was bred like a racehorse, to be a missionary; but I'm here because I love it more than anything."

Well, I guess that's all for this week. I haven't really eaten anything bizarre in the last week, but I did have some amazing carne asada (the Mexican version of stake, basically). It was so funny--Mexican people are excessively generous with food, so when my companion and I went over to this member's house on Sunday (there were a few member families there having dinner together), so I took a good-sized piece of carne asada (about the size of my hand) and was enjoying it when one of the sisters comes up to me and goes, "Elder, don't you like the carne asada?" And I told that I loved it and it was delicious. Then she said, "Well, have some more then!" And she slaps on a HUGE piece of carne asada on my plate (I'm not even kidding. It was legitimately the size of a dinner plate--probably a little less than a foot across). No wonder most Spanish-speaking missionaries gain weight. Enjoy your week!

Sincerely,
Elder Gibbons

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

October 5, 2010

"I'm staying for another transfer! Me and my companion Elder Silva are both staying. Everything is going great here, and the weather has cooled off a bit. It's pretty funny--it's about 65 or 70 degrees in the day now, with clouds, and all these Californians are getting sick and walking around with hoodies and sweaters and coats (one girl even had a winter hat). Three different Mexican families gave us hot chocolate yesterday "to help us warm up." It was raining almost all day yesterday, so I got to have my first missionary day in the rain. After a day of riding your bikes in the rain, it's amazing how much mud is splattered on the back of your white shirt. Other than that, everything is going great. I also had ceviche this week--it is like salsa...a mix of onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, lemon juice, and raw shrimp."
September 28, 2010

"It's pretty hot (yesterday it was 114 degrees) but October is coming soon, and so hopefully it should take the edge off the heat. I wrecked my bike for the first time this week (luckily I didn't get injured, rip my pants, or damage my bike--all in all, a pretty successful crash). I ate fish tacos this week (not bad, but not good either) and shrimp tacos too (surprisingly good). I must say, I am pretty proud of how good I have gotten at just eating whatever people put in front of me."
September 28, 2010

"The days are just flying by. It's awful. I can't imagine coming back and just being a normal person again, because being a missionary is so much fun and the best thing in the world. We actually listened to a talk by Elder Bednar where he said that when you get back from your mission, if you gave your mission everything you have, then you should be and feel weird for a while (being back to normal life). If you adjust right back to how you were before, you didn't do your mission right."

September 2010 - Baptism of Porfirio and Lucy.

September 2010 - San Diego Temple.
September 21, 2010

"We got to go to the San Diego temple today. It was amazing. It has one of the most interesting baptistries I have ever seen, and the celestial room has two floors! I think it's interesting that you learn something new every time you go to the temple. I had a great experience. Today was the first time when I went into the temple with a question to which I wanted an answer. By the time I got out of the session, I knew exactly what the answer was. It was such an exciting experience. It was so great to be able to go to the temple today, but it's even better to imagine that in a year from now, I can go to the temple for Roberto and Ofelia Lopez's sealing, Eric Cruz's endowments, Nieves' endowments, and Lucy and Porfirio's sealing!"

September 2010 - With Elder Silva and Nieves before her baptism.

September 2010 - "I got bit by a dog on the hand. I feel like a real missionary now!"

September 2010 - With Elder Snyder and Araceli before her baptism.