Tuesday, February 28, 2012

February 28, 2012

Greetings from the beautiful city of Mission Viejo! Everything is going exceptionally well. The Mission Viejo 5th ward covers 3 stakes and several cities, so our area is enormous. Elder Chavez and I cover Mission Viejo, Lake Forest, and Ladera Ranch (the entire area of the Mission Viejo stake). We have a full-time car (thank goodness...it takes half an hour to get to some parts of our area in a car! If we had to walk we would have to let the outskirts dwindle in unbelief). We have great investigators, a lot of Spanish speakers in our area, and two baptisms this weekend! (We walked right into two baptisms this week and one more the week after).

My new companion is Elder David Chavez, from Salt Lake City, Utah. He went to BYU before his mission for a semester and studied Biochemistry. (He doesn't know, but I left for my mission while he was a junior in high school..........super weird. I told everyone in our district to not tell him how much time I have. I want him to think that I have a year left, so that there are as few distractions as possible. . . . ) His grandparents are from Mexico, but his family has lived in the United States for decades, and so he has to learn Spanish like the rest of us, haha. We are having a lot of fun together. He seems to be a little naturally shy but I am well into the process of breaking him of it. . . .

February 21, 2012

Elder Zarate and I with Luis' family

February 21, 2012

We decided last night to use the balloons that I was given for my birthday for a little bit of proselyting.

February 21, 2012

Participating in possibly the most awesome part of Mexican culture - having your face shoved into your birthday cake.

February 21, 2012

The angel of transfer death did not pass over my apartment last week. Usually we are kept completely in the dark about where and who we are going with, but thanks to a leak in the inner circles of the mission (one of the new Assistants), I was able to find out the details. I am going to be training (this time, my greenie is going to be white...so the learning curve is going to be a lot steeper than it was for Elder Driaza), and I am going to be in Mission Viejo! It's the northernmost part of the mission in Orange County. There's a lot fewer Spanish-speakers up there (here in Escondido, we have one Spanish ward that covers the area of the whole stake... up there, they have one Spanish ward that covers the area of the Mission Viejo, Santa Margarita, and Laguna Niguel stakes....three!). . . .

It's going to be super fun! I am so excited. I am definitely sad to be leaving my native Escondido, and it was hard saying goodbye to all the people here that I love, but I know that the Lord wants me to be in Mission Viejo. And if the Lord wants me in Mission Viejo, I wouldn't be happy staying here in Escondido anyways. . . .

This week was really great. We took the new family that we found a few weeks ago to the chapel, where we had set up a giant walk-through model of the Plan of Salvation. It worked out so well. They were able to really understand and remember it, and it was a lot of fun. Yesterday we passed by their house and asked if they had been reading the Book of Mormon. They said that they were confused and didn't know in what direction that they wanted to go, and had decided to read the Bible every night as a family, but they still had yet to crack open the Book of Mormon. We decided to start reading the Book of Mormon with them starting in 1 Nefi. It was so great. They felt the Spirit, and by the end the mom put a bookmark in her Book of Mormon and said, "I think I will trade some of my Bible time for this" and later said, "I think I could be a Mormon someday." It's amazing how they for some reason couldn't get over the "hurdle" of just opening the book and reading, but the Book of Mormon is so powerful that the instant they started reading, it started changing them. . . .

Thanks for all the birthday wishes! My companion made sure to tell/text everyone he could, so I was being bombarded by birthday wishes all day long. I was able to participate in possibly the most beautiful part of Mexican culture-- "Que lo muerda." Basically, when someone has a birthday, they put your cake in front of you and sing "Las MaƱanitas" and then they start chanting "Que lo muerda" (which means, "Bite it"). You have to lean forward and put the edge of the birthday cake, and then everyone around you jumps up and shoves your face into the cake. And then we all eat it, face-print and all. Awesome (although, I got frosting way up in my nose... hours later, I could still smell birthday cake).

A little bit less pleasant and definitely more unexpected: on our way home to the apartment on Saturday night, we were pulling in right at the nick of time at 9:30 and as we got out of the car, we heard a woman screaming "Help me". We turned around a saw a lady sitting on the concrete steps that go from the parking lot to the apartments, and as we walked towards her, she got up and stumbled towards us, and we realized that she was covered in blood. We had her sit down and called 9-1-1, the whole time she was bleeding pretty badly from the side of her head. The police and ambulance both came and picked her up, and we didn't get in our apartment until 10pm that night (we figured that it wouldn't be Christlike to tell her "No, we can't help you. We have to be in our apartment at 9:30" haha). It was a pretty intense birthday surprise.

February 14, 2012

Querida familia,

Greetings from the increasingly less cold city of Escondido! Everything is going incredible, as always. The zone continues to push the boundaries of what we thought was possible for a single zone to accomplish. We have the best Spanish missionaries in the mission right now in our zone. We are having several more baptisms this week (including two investigators who had been waiting forever on permission from the husband/father, who finally were able to receive permission after fasting with the missionaries), and a recent convert in San Marcos received the Melchizedek Priesthood, with several more recent convert brothers on the way. President Cook has really been focusing on helping Spanish units increase the percentage of brethren with the Melchizedek Priesthood, so that the Church actually gets stronger as well as bigger. With transfers coming up, we are hoping that President Cook leaves everything and everyone the way they are right now, but we will have to see.

I passed my six-month mark in this area, which is awesome (the longest I have ever stayed in a single area). I was almost sure that I would be transferred at the end of this transfer, but because of various conversations and indicators, I have been lead to believe that my chances of staying in this area longer are greater than I had previously supposed. This morning I read Alma 16-19 in the Book of Mormon, and thought about how cool it would to stay here until the "day that I die." Who knows? Whatever happens, I will be happy.

We have been very blessed this week. The amazing family that we found last Friday came to Church on Sunday (to our surprise--they hadn't given us a definite 'yes' when we had asked them, which for investigators usually means 'no'), and they loved it (and sat by their member neighbors in sacrament meeting). But wait, there's more--we gave one of our investigators a tour of the Church building on Saturday and she felt the Spirit strongly in the chapel, and the next morning she was one of the first people in the chapel for sacrament meeting (she beat most of the members).

But wait, there's more--a family that the sister missionaries had been teaching who they passed off to us came to Church on Sunday for the first time and loved it (the first family I have taught from Guatemala), and last night we went and taught them and set baptismal dates with the four oldest children (seven children total). The sisters did a really good job with teaching them. Those little kids knew more than some recent converts know!

Well, that is all for right now. Thanks for the letters! Enjoy your week!

Elder Gibbons