Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Two great weeks--

Aaron didn't email last week because they did make it to the temple, which took their p-day. Here's a nice long one to make up for it:

The past couple of weeks have been really good. The biggest highlight was the temple, of course. It really magnified my testimony of everything. It was a far better experience than I had had in the past and received real insight and personal revelation that I had not gotten as strongly on other visits. It's always too short, of course, but it was really good. I look forward to the day after my mission when I can make a trip alone and stay until I'm satisfied. It was pretty amazing.

We had also had a pretty great zone conference a couple weeks ago. We're no longer doing the nightly call-ins to our district leader. It's bizarre, the difference in policy. I'm not sure why that makes such a big difference, but it really does. The whole point is so revelation and our thought process after nightly planning isn't disturbed by making our calls at the end of the night and rushing to get to bed on time. It was a really great zone conference.

I had mentioned before, during my first week in this area, about the investigator named Hilary. She's the one with pioneer ancestry and all that. I was kind of bummed because we had an amazing first meeting with her, then we hadn't been able to really contact her much for the next three weeks. She had gotten pretty sick and nothing seemed to be working out. We finally caught her again and took her on the church tour. We committed her for baptism for later next month. She's really ready too. It's what she's been looking for. We're hoping to be able to get her whole family on board, of course. She's married with two kids, 11 and 15. They're a great family and it would be great for them.

Friday was ridiculously hectic. We had a really early breakfast at Denny's with our bishop, then had to rush over to pick up a missionary vehicle and rush to Stockton (30-40 minutes away, and out of the mission) to get to my doctor's appointment. Then we rushed back to the apartment and picked up my bike tire from the shop (broke another spoke...hate my bike--ok, I love my bike, but I hate the sins it commits against me), and head over to our 12:00 lunch appointment with an investigator. After that we had to make a bunch of calls in the park across the street, rush back to the apartment and do a quick half-weekly planning session, then have a quick dinner in the apartment, and go out to work in the evening. It was a crazy day.

I had an exchange where I went to work in the Spanish elder's area on Saturday. That was so much fun. I half-wish I was a Spanish elder because it's so much fun. Most of the lessons we taught that day were actually in English, because many of the people are bi-lingual, but there were a few in Spanish. I kept wanting to jump into the conversations, but I really don't have the faith to let the gift of tongues to fill my words, I guess.

We spent most of the day down in airport district with all the gangs, meth-heads, and bums (not teaching them, but surrounded by them). It really reminded me of Visalia 1st in a way. It was also really nice being in a car all day. I would get pretty fat if I did that, though. I can guarantee that.

I spent the evening cleaning their vacuum cleaner (the filters) and making it work. The filters didn't dry in time for me to use it though. I was bummed. Their apartment was nearly as gross as ours was. We had a bunch of people come to church yesterday; it was great.

We only had one investigator there, but we had been trying to get him there for awhile. He had a great experience and told us that he hadn't had a cigarette in three days (which seriously cuts down from three packs a day). He had a great time while it lasted. He even showed up in his tow truck uniform because he had to work. There were also huge groups of families and individuals of less-active members that we are working with that showed up for church. It was a pretty good day at church.

Last week was really warm and we spent several days biking without a coat and it was dry too. Now it's wet and pretty cold. It won't last long, though. Pretty soon it'll be back to great weather. Then, when summer hits, it'll be miserably hot again. We'll take it one step at a time.

That's awesome about Michael being "The Beast". I can see that, I really can. It sounds like a lot of fun.

I can't believe Daniel is turning eight soon and getting baptized and that Sierra is going to be reaching double digits! That's just absolutely crazy. What's really crazy is when I was telling someone that I took French in high school and that I don't remember too much of it because I didn't do too well, I only took one year, and that was TEN YEARS AGO. I'm so old. I can feel it in my bones. Another six months and I'll be a quarter century old. I'm really glad that Andrew's procedure went well.

Today we will be having a zone activity. It'll probably be volleyball or something. Oh, I don't remember when I received it, but I don't think I've mentioned it, yet--my trainer is getting married. That's the weirdest thing ever. I guess it's been a year since he went home, but still, seeing a picture of Elder Whitney with his arms around a girl--so weird. I also heard from Elder Bean, who is going to BYUI and dating. That's too weird. I hope everyone's doing well and staying healthy.


Monday, February 8, 2010

I've been out a year!

Well, I've been out a year. I'm currently in a sort of Limbo. I've been out over a year, but I also go home in over a year. A year from tomorrow will be the day I come home after my mission is complete. I'm too used to California, I think. There's a crazy guy sitting on the computer next to me gently arguing with himself while he surfs the internet. I'm totally used to that. It just feels normal, as though that's the usual thing. Coming to the 2nd ward is kind of a really great thing.

I forgot to mention it last week, but there's this thing about missionary apartments. When you don't need/want something anymore, if it still has any use left, it gets left behind. It's kind of an unspoken law of consecration. Pretty much, any future missionary can lay claim to it. I come into our new apartment, and lo and behold, someone had abandoned (most of) their own Diamondback Edgewood (same as my bike, just this one's a smaller frame). It's fairly new and has just been sitting there for a long time. I've been (when I have the time) taking parts from it and replacing some of my worn parts. I'm taking the brakes and the treads and the seat stem. I'm not sure if anything else is even worth it. I have very little time with all the other projects I've been occupying myself with. This morning I found a pair of shoes that are about my size and are in pretty good condition. The soles and falling off a bit, so I'll need to get some shoe goo or something, but other than that, awesome.

I'll be busy today, as usual. We committed, because we said no last week, that we would play dodge ball this week. That'll cut into our day for sure. We also have a lot more cleaning to do in the apartment. I wasn't kidding when I said that that apartment is a rat's nest. We cleaned the kitchen last week. It's not near to being done, but it's livable now. Everything is pretty gross, and because it's so gross, it's a lot of fun to clean. There's instant gratification that comes with wiping something and finding out what color the surface is actually supposed to be. I pulled out the refrigerator...bleck. It's clean now. I thought we may have needed a new vacuum because it wasn't working and it was spitting out dirt instead of sucking it up. I knew if I looked at it that I could fix it. It's bagless and there are four washable filters on it. All of them were caked with an eternity of filth. It now works wonders. I tested out a 3x3 ft square after I cleaned it and I emptied a large ball of junk from the canister. It was very satisfying. I look forward to some day having the time when it isn't early in the morning or late at night (when I have time) when I can push it all over. I'm pretty excited about it; I'm not going to lie.

Next week, I don't know if I'll be emailing or not. We will be having out temple trip next Tuesday, and that'll be the day we're moving our preparation day to. I don't know if/how much time we'll have to email. It's rained a couple times this week. I like this weather better than the 100+ degree weather all summer here, but I do enjoy that it doesn't rain during the summer. A couple weeks ago it did thunderstorm, though. I had to pause and reflect, as it had been a year or more since I had heard one. It wasn't the same as the Midwest, but there was noise and light flashing in the sky. I do miss the summer thunderstorms back home. I would just hate to have to be a missionary in them. I like them if I can stay inside or sit on a covered porch (except, of course, they make it to where the power goes out and/or we can't use the computers). The weather has been in the 40s or 50s usually. It isn't really cold, though. There's very little humidity, so all I usually need is a light windbreaker-type jacket and maybe my gloves if my hands get cold on the handlebars. We'll be having another zone conference tomorrow. Apparently there are changes coming that the zone leaders cryptically warned us about, but wouldn't tell us anything. I have no idea. Maybe we'll find out tomorrow. Elder Hansen and I are getting along well. We're pretty similar, as it turns out. We aren't quote-buddies, as Elder Daniels and I are, but he is a movie buff. Elder Daniels and I could throw out the most random quote, even a couple words, and the other could finish it. It's all going pretty well. I hope everyone is doing well. I'll try to write real letters soon.


Saturday, February 6, 2010

Feb. 1, 2010

I'm a year old. I'm so old. I'm happy. It's not that I'm looking forward to my mission being over at all. It's just a great mile-marker. 6 months meant I wasn't a greeny. 10 months was double digits--booya. 1 year means everyone may stop telling me, "Oh, well you've got a long way to go," etc. This is the point where I'm between 12 and 18 months, where after that, you're about to go home in everyone's eyes. It's a relatively short period of time where you can be a respectable missionary that is seasoned without being trunky. Ramble, ramble...

An awesome thing happened my first day in my new ward. A few months ago, Elder Jackson and I street contacted a lady who told us that all her mom's ancestry is Mormon and they were pioneers and all that. Her mom left the church long ago and converted to Catholicism, and all the kids were raised Catholic. We gave them as a referral to 2nd ward because they were in the process of moving there. After several months of not hearing anything about it, they were able to contact her and the first lesson we shared with her was my first day in the 2nd ward. She had really been prepared before that lesson. It was pretty amazing. It showed me that I am supposed to be where I am.

We had the Modesto Stake Conference yesterday. It was really good. Elder Whiting, a 70 of some kind, came and spoke. President and Sister Gonzalez (mission president and wife) also came and spoke briefly. It was all really powerful and good. I covered my planner. I'm really happy with it. I couldn't find any adequate pictures to cover it with last time, so I only taped it the way it was. This one, though, I'm very happy with. Oh, I guess I didn't say--the transfer went well. I really didn't have far to go. 2nd ward is one of 8th ward's boundaries.

Oh, I ate Indian food last night. Elder Hansen and I are getting along well. There's this one Figian family in the ward where when you go there, they expect you to wait while they make food and have you eat, no matter what time of day it is. It's offensive if you don't. Fish curry and spicy buffalo wings. My mouth was on fire. Indian spice is very different than Mexican peppers. It was definitely an experience.

Today, we will be spending a large amount of preparation day cleaning. 2nd ward's apartment is a rat's nest and it's largely covered in mold (the bathroom, at least.) It's terrible. I cleaned out the kitchen cupboards and the fridge of all bad and old food. Some of the food was sitting open to air, while others had been expired for a few years. There were old prescriptions and everything else imaginable. Today the deep cleaning begins. I'm actually looking forward to that. I hope everyone has a great week!