Somehow, California has gotten hotter than I thought was possible. Sometimes I walk outside and it literally feels like the sun is burning my skin away. But other than that, it's awesome.
Apparently in Utah, missionaries get their meals paid for by just random people all the time. We don't expect that here! But we went to this pho place, and after we ordered, the owner came up and was like, "Elders! How are you?!" His son goes to BYU – not sure if he's a member though. When we finished and went to pay, he just went "it's okay" and took care of it. We tried to pay, but he wouldn't let us. There are a surprising amount of Mormons around California, people approach us all the time, saying "Hey Elders!," It's fun.
Californians just don't like saying no. We'll ask when we can come back to visit with people and they're super vague, not wanting to say yes or no, not wanting to commit. Sometimes I just want to ask, if I come back will you or will you not let me into your house to talk about our religion. It's frustrating, but I guess having too many polite people is not a huge problem to have!
President Mullen, in a trainer/trainee meeting answered a question from an Elder about how to answer questions on the church's stance on homosexuality (he had answered "no bueno" to a person the previous night...). President said to approach it with love, we love everyone, we invite everyone to come to church, he's a pretty open guy coming from North California. The thing was, that night, at the softball fields, a girl approached us asking about Mormonism and eventually said she was gay. So I had a solid answer for her - she was satisfied with it!
One of the guys we drop by is working on his jeep - the friend of the couple who are going to get married soon. Turns out he's a golf pro. He has a wedge company, which is cool. He's always in his garage taping clubs or working on the jeep. Maybe he'll teach us a thing or two about golfing. He's been on some nice courses. Some people are just so chill and laid back in California - opposite the vibe on the East coast (not saying there aren't nice people on the East coast!).
Maybe we're entrepreneur magnets, because we ran into another single entrepreneur who works in his garage a lot. This guy sells zero calorie noodles and was busy taping nutrition facts on them when we stopped by. He said we're welcome back anytime, so we'll probably stop by for a lesson soon.
The people I've met are from all walks of life. One guy's girlfriend just got diagnosed with cancer and he's been fighting it. Another guy has full body tattoos and no front teeth – used to be a heroin addict, but is a grandfather now. We might stop back to have him hear more about the religion because he's a super nice guy. Used to be in a gang but changed his ways. I'm certainly glad we're not in Compton because one of our investigators used to live down there and got shot in the head from the crossfire of gang shootings.
Our most interesting and fun investigator is probably Easley, the 81 year old man. He's seen a lot, World War II, and all the wars since, segregation, the first black president. He has a nice plate in his house with pictures of Obama on it – must have been a momentous occasion for him.
When he was talking about "kids these days" he mentioned back in the day, he'd get "whooped" by his teacher, then go home and his mom would make him choose a switch to "whoop" him with. And oh boy he said he knew not to do that again. But when he had his daughter, he said people said he couldn't "whoop" her, he said "boy I tell you, if I can't whoop her, you raise her." The things he says are hilarious.
When we were talking about blessings from God, he said, oh boy have I been blessed. He used to own a body shop, one night he heard commotion and saw a guy trying to steal a tire from one of his cars. He said, "I'm gonna kill him" but his wife said no, so he shot him and it hit him in the arm. He said he was blessed not to kill the man that night. The police went to the hospital and picked him up, brought him to jail. He's on date to be baptized on October 12th, hopefully it all pulls through.
When I was on companion exchanges, it was super hot so we went to the church to get some water. It just so happened we walked into a Chinese baptism. I got to meet people from the Chinese group down here, it was nice to be able to speak Chinese to everyone. Plus I got tons of watermelon and moon cakes – sufficiently satisfied for having missed Mid-Autumn Festival.
We had a missionary fireside where a former mission president and our current mission president spoke about how members can and need to help missionary work - "talk to everyone." I was part of a small missionary choir that sang, "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing." It was really fun, and sounded very beautiful, a very spiritual experience. On the way back though, we were riding in our Ward Mission Leader's car, and we got a flat, so I got to change the flat tire in missionary clothes.
It's funny how as missionaries, we can make grown men run away from us. I was in the parking lot of Vons, a pharmacy, and asked if this guy needed any help. He walked up and was like, "they said they'd help me in the store but they didn't." He was this Italian man and when he looked at my name tag and saw I wasn't an employee he suddenly got super worried like I would turn him into a duck or something and literally ran, saying “no, please no.” I was just like... “okay dude.” But it's all fun!
Sunday lunch with Elder Dyer (left), Johansen, and Taylor
Elders Dyer and Johansen before P-day (complete with the necessary headbands)
Toasty Miraloma weather
Forest fire in Riverside
View of sunset over the hills from where we live
Gourmet salad with the requisite Sister's Pantry sauce (from my aunties)
My new English name tag