Friday, September 30, 2011

September 27, 2011

Our Zone in Escondido

September 27, 2011

I had an amazing experience with fasting this week, and I think you all would really enjoy it (and perhaps find it a little entertaining). So this week I have been really thinking hard about how to help the zone progress, and that is what I decided to fast for on fast Sunday--how to be a better leader for the zone. Right after Church we met with a high councilor to discuss the ward and the missionary work in our ward, and we were very poorly prepared for the meeting. We didn't have a lot of the information he was asking for, and we just hadn't put a lot of thought into the meeting beforehand. After about 15 minutes, he took off his glasses, leaned back, and said, "Elders, can I give you some advice?" And he proceeded to rebuke us with the fury of Abinadi--a legitimate call to repentance. My first reaction (like everyone's natural reaction) was to get a little defensive, but as soon as he started talking, I felt the Spirit tell me that what he was going to tell me was the Lord's answer to my fast. That helped sure helped me be as humble as the Lord needed to be able to learn. I learned so much. I am so glad that the high counselor loved us enough to 'reprove us with sharpness.' Basically, he asked us, "Are you two leaders that act or leaders that are acted upon?" It was so intense, and I have never had such an immediate and clear answer to a fast before. As it turned out, Elder Thomas had been fasting for the exact same thing. It was such a cool learning experience. Not every answer from God can be a rainbow. Sometimes God sends rainbows, and sometimes He rains fire on wicked cities.

Everything is going great. We asked one of the members how is it that Mexicans can throw such huge parties (that you can hear from miles away) without having the police called on them, and she answered, "We just invite everyone, and that way nobody complains." Good counsel, haha. While knocking doors this week, we ran across a house with a guard dog on the roof. We quickly realized that he was pretty useless, since he could bark and snarl at us, but he was too afraid to jump down, and so we just went and rang the doorbell. We had a recent convert tell an investigator during a Word of Wisdom lesson that drinking beer wasn't a sin, but drinking beer in front of people was (that one couldn't get left without being corrected, haha). I tried hard-boiling eggs last week, which ended in a massive failure. All in all, things have a way of staying interesting in the life of a missionary.

September 20, 2011

On Friday I got to go to probably the most awesome ward activity I have ever been to in my life. Friday was Independence Day in Mexico (also known as "El Grito de México) and our ward threw a huge party for a ward activity. There were seven or eight different kinds of pozole, there was a program of traditional Mexican dancing put on by the Primary and the Young Men and Young Women. It was great. We had a ton of members, both active and less-active, and investigators, and everyone loved it....all 500 of the people who went. It was awesome. Not to mention that the bishop and other leaders came dressed as Mexican founding fathers.

We are teaching a lot of awesome people....We are really trying to focus on helping them understand the importance and weight of really reading the Book of Mormon and praying about it....We found out a couple weeks ago that one investigator (the wife of a recent convert) who has been taught for more than a year, hasn't been reading just because her eyes are bad and it is hard for her to see the letters. So we threw everything we had into finding her a large-print Book of Mormon ASAP, and she hasn't missed a reading assignment since! There is a new light in her eyes, and it is all because of the Book of Mormon.

September 13, 2011

Greetings from........ESCONDIDO!!! I am working here in the northern part of Escondido with Elder Thomas, who was the Spanish district leader in San Clemente two transfers ago when I was with Elder Carey. . .

I was able to see a lot of great families on Sunday that I remembered from a year ago (although neither they nor I can believe that it was a year feels like yesterday). . . .

Yes, we were part of the huge blackout (hidden blessing: I was able to learn the Spanish word for 'blackout,' apagón). About 4:30 pm we were walking down the street talking to people and realized the cell phone wasn't working anymore (frustrating) and then as we were talking to people we realized the power was out. At first we thought that it was just the apartment complex we were in, and then we realized it was all of Escondido, then we realized that it was all of San Diego County, and finally we were informed of the complete range of the blackout. It was intense. We drove to the Church building to use the landline phone in the clerk's office because our cell phones were unreliable and spent the next couple hours trying to get a hold of the missionaries in the zone, because we were told to go in early that night for safety (sisters in at 7, elders in before the sun goes down). It was crazy. By the time we were back at the apartment, we had accounted for all the missionaries and we could call President Cook to report back, our cell phone had died, so we had to knock on our neighbors door and use their phone (finding out in the process that our neighbors had talked to missionaries years ago and that they had recently had a death in the family). We were given permission to go to bed early (once-in-a-mission opportunity), and then when we woke up the next morning, the power was back.

We were joking about how worried our families were about us. We imagined our parents having mental images of us being mugged in the anarchal streets of downtown Escondido (except my parents didn't even know where I was), when in reality we were sitting safely on the porch in our apartment, eating Safeway-brand mini ravioli out of the can, and looking at the unusually visible stars (usually in southern California, the constant light pollution makes it hard to see stars). It destroyed the night we had planned (we had several appointments that had to be canceled), but we came out alive, so that's good. . . .

September 6, 2011

Elder Kidd and I with members of our ward at a family home evening.

September 6, 2011

Zone Leader Council.

September 6, 2011

The youngest brother and cousin of the three young women that were baptized when I was with Elder Carey. The kid is named Osito on the left. He is three years old and was born prematurely and has been trying to learn how to walk, and now he can walk on his own.
September 6, 2011

Querida familia,

As always, time has been going way too fast. Adiós, San Juan Capistrano. I got transferred. Elder Kidd is staying, as is everyone else in our Spanish district, except me. It was such a blessing to be able to serve 6 months in such a great ward. We were talking to the stake president on Sunday, and he told us that the Spanish ward only became a ward 1.5 years ago--it was tiny back then, and now the last few weeks the ward has been getting 140-150 people at sacrament meeting. Apparently, when the Spanish branch became a ward, the stake president prophesied that one day the ward would be split! I love San Juan and I am really going to miss the people here. They are such good missionaries. (Lucy brought a co-worker and her kids to Church on Sunday and is going to set us up to meet another one of her friends this week!) Hopefully I might get to serve in this ward one more time before I finish my mission? Who knows.

As for my destination, I am leaning strongly towards Escondido. That is the only other zone where they have Spanish zone leaders (Escondido actually has two zones--an English zone and a Spanish zone). That would be my guess, but of course I can't be sure until transfer meeting in a couple hours. It would certainly be fun going back to Escondido and serving in the same ward that I started my mission in!

This has been such a great week. We really wanted to have the San Clemente zone focus on finding new investigators this week, because our zone has been finding fewer and fewer new investigators every week this transfer. So we sent out messages telling the zone to really focus on finding new investigators to have good teaching opportunities for the elders who were here next transfer, whoever they are. It went great! Our zone found three times the new investigators this week than last week!

The members in our area are really getting fired up about missionary work. Like I said, Lucy brought a co-worker and her kids to Church on Sunday, and is working on another friend as well. Another brother in our ward has 2 or 3 families that he is working on, and our ward mission leader organized a Labor Day lunch for us with a ton of non-members who live on the same street as him (also, the lunch was tinga, which is delicious). The young women in our ward are inviting friends and less actives to church, to activities, and to listen to us, and we have been going to priests quorum every Sunday to help the priests out, and they have really been helping us a ton with teaching appointments. All in all, everything is going 100% awesome.

Well, I guess that is all for right now. Thanks for everything! Enjoy your week! I will let you know in a week where I ended up.

Con amor,

Elder Gibbons!