March 29, 2011
Well, I am writing this letter from the third area of my mission.
I am in..................San Clemente! It is the southernmost city in Orange County, along the coast. In Oceanside I was right along the southern edge of Camp Pendleton and now I am right along the northern edge. It's about 30-45 minute drive. We live on top of a hill and very close to the beach, so you can see the ocean from our apartment complex! The church building here is one street away from the beach, on a hill (you can see a full view of the ocean from the church parking lot). The weather here is amazing. I was hoping to not go inland (Ramona, Fallbrook, Valley Center) because summer is coming up, and I got super lucky and got put right smack dab on the coast! It is beautiful here.
I am serving in the San Clemente 3rd ward (Spanish-speaking, obviously), and my companion is Elder Luis Ochoa, from Lima, Peru (he's so native he's not even an American citizen--he's here on a visa). I have gotten very lucky to get two out of the three native Spanish speakers in the mission for companions (President Cook must think my Spanish is awful). It works out exceptionally well because he is helping me learn Spanish and I am helping him learn English. The ward is about the same size as the ward in Oceanside (probably a little smaller), but one of the most interesting things is that the bishop here is 28 years old! When we went to meet him I thought he was the bishop's son or something like that. We cover half of the San Clemente stake and the sister missionaries in our ward cover the other half, so we have a full-time car. Our area includes all of the cities of San Clemente and Dana Point. (Most of the cars in our mission are Chevy Malibus or Toyota Corollas, but the car that is assigned to this area is a 2009 Mazda 3, one of the only two in the mission. I love this car. It is so much fun to drive).
My district here is a lot bigger than my Spanish district in Oceanside. We have myself, Elder Ochoa, two sets of elders and two sets of sisters (all the missionaries in San Clemente, Dana Point, and San Juan Capistrano). Orange County is so different from San Diego County (the southern part of the mission). There are a lot of super rich people here, which is why there are only 4 Spanish missionaries in the stake. In Oceanside and Escondido we could go anywhere and find Mexicans, but here missionary work involves finding scattered pockets of Mexicans (the only way to get to Orange County from the south is interstate 5, because of Camp Pendleton, and there is a border patrol checkpoint on 5North, so a lot of Mexicans don't try to get here).
We have been doing great, though. We have found some great people already. We are teaching a couple named Giovani and María, and Giovani wants to get baptized. We also found a very inactive sister named Quintina and as we were talking to her, she told us that she hasn't gone to our church for years and that she is Catholic now and isn't going to change, and we asked her why not, and she told us that her husband was Catholic and wouldn't go to church with him. By coincidence (or maybe something else), her husband pulled up as we were talking to her, and we said, "Well, let's ask him!" So we started teaching him and now they read the Book of Mormon together. Turns out her husband is the older brother of a recent convert in our ward, as well. The sister is so happy with us that she feeds us everytime we go over, whether we want to or not. Yesterday she gave us posoli, a Mexican soup, which was delicious and in very large quantities (she gave me and Elder Ochoa both a serving bowl full of it--more than we would have eaten in two helpings with a normal bowl). And they had this great habañero chile sauce that we put in the soup. It was so hot that even with just two drops in my soup, I was sweating and red by the time I finished (delicious!).
We also went by and started teaching the cousin of a recent convert, but the coolest part was that for almost every scripture that we showed him in the Book of Mormon, he looked at it and said that his cousin had already read that to him. When we tried to leave him a Book of Mormon, he said his cousin had already given him one. It was so cool. His cousin basically taught him a first lesson!
Well, that is all for this week. We are having fun here in San Clemente. I can't wait for General Conference this weekend! It's so funny that to missionaries, General Conference is like Christmas. But wow, the time is flying. October conference feels like it was yesterday. Well, that's all for now. Enjoy your week!