Monday, November 23, 2015

November 23, 2015

Transfer weeks are always fun, especially when they end in a baptism!  Angel got baptized and there was a great showing from the ward.  Lots of people there!  Everyone was being so warm to his mother even though she doesn't speak English.  Gotta get my Spanish good enough so we can just teach her.  Just kidding, we'll pass her over to the Spanish Elders.  Their Spanish is a little bit better than ours'.

We had our new companion, Elder Westenskow in the apartment now, so we have three beds lined up in our room - the pod.  It's really fun.  He got a full does of office life with all the trips we have to take to the airport and all the places we need to drive.  Early mornings, lots of training, lots of food. Transfer weeks are tiring and not very healthy.  

Elder Fischer retired from driving the big 8 seat Ford E-150 van so I did it this time.  That van is a big vehicle...  It is fun taking the outgoing missionaries to the airport because at a certain point in the ride (usually when we can see the airport or airplanes flying really low) it suddenly sinks in that they're going home.  Very bittersweet moment for them, they've been devoting all their time, energy, and strength and they're just about to go back to the "real world."  Nerve wracking for some! It was sad to see Elder Anderson go.  He was Elder Fischer's companion before I came in and is an awesome missionary.

Bringing the incoming missionaries to the mission home is fun too.  They have a bunch of crazy assumptions about Riverside and the mission.  The great thing to see is the fire they have in them.  They could go out and baptize a city with that energy.  We just hope it stays as they go throughout their two years or 18 months.

I always like to share a message about gossip to the trainers when we are training them the day the pick up their new missionaries.  A lot of people are straight out of high school so they naturally like to talk about other missionaries the same way they might have talked about people back in school.  The message we share is that "gossip robs The Atonement."  It does not allow people to change and in fact can be something that prevents people from changing.  It brings back the past even when people have moved on.  They tend to like this message a lot.

The fun part about being in a trio is we can go on TRIPS, as in triple splits.  A split is when we each go with a member to get more work done, but now we can do even MORE.  When we were teaching some of our investigators (actually the ones in the dog pictures below), I was on splits with a member who works at Disneyland.  I told the kids he works at the happiest place on earth and asked them if they knew where that was.  They promptly replied, "CHURCH!"  I laughed at that and said, "well I guess it's the second happiest place on earth... Disneyland!"

At the airport, taking Elder Anderson home (he used to take people to the airport, now it's his turn to actually go home!). We did blue, black, blue ,black (for the suits) always gotta have the patterns.

my bags are packed and ready to go. KIDDING

one of our investigators got a brand new chihuahua

my Lion King pictures took a while to get down

BAPTISM! for Angel. He's awesome. (notice the failed suit sandwich, blue, blue, grey!)

cheesecake for the outgoing missionaries.  transfer week = fat week

snagged a selfie in the office.  the iPad was just lying there!

Four square - it was cold in sunny california

action shots

with my son

 group picture

Monday, November 16, 2015

November 16, 2015

Transfers happened and we are now in a TRIO!!! Elder Fischer will be staying with me and we're getting Elder Westenskow, who is the most loving guy in the world.  We're going to have lots of fun this transfer.  It's too bad we don't have the same color suits.  There's two greys, and two blues, and two blacks, but not three of everything :(.

Unfortunately, we didn't have as many investigators at church on Sunday as we wanted.  It was the "Primary Program" so pretty much the whole first hour was little kids singing and giving small messages about Jesus Christ.  Very cute.  When they called all the children up to the front to sing and start the program, our investigator went up too.  I was really, really nervous because I didn't tell him to do that and this was his first time at church so he has never heard any of the songs before.  He was a trooper though.  I felt like a parent just looking at him and giving him HUGE smiles, and pointing at my mouth and making a smiling motion to encourage him to just smile.  He even caught on to some of the songs in the later verses and would sing along with the chorus.  Very fun.

Contacting people on the street is kind of like hunting.  You have to identify the next person you're going for, and go for it.  We got out of the car one evening, and I looked across the street and saw a family crossing the road.  So naturally I start talking to them.  I'm walking along the sidewalk forward, and then BOOM.  I walked straight into the pole of a "no parking" sign.  I was fine though, you should see the pole :).  I ended up getting their address from them to visit later, so it all worked out in the end.  Maybe they just took pity on me, or maybe they were scared of what I did to the pole...

We had a taco night with one of the families in our ward.  Two of the siblings got baptized in January, and we're working with the oldest one.  It was pretty professional, they were doing all the cooking outside so people would drive up and ask if they were selling them.  People making tacos out on their lawns and selling them is apparently is pretty normal thing here.  They were delicious though - nothing beats Mexican street tacos.

In other news, Elder Zeng is now a zone leader!  It's really exciting because now I will go on exchanges with him and visit my old area and see how my Chinese is now.

My pictures are all on a USB that another missionary has, so I only have two this week. 

Technically from last week, the p day activity

Last zone p-day activity before transfers, we played four square - flashback to elementary school days

Monday, November 9, 2015

November 9, 2015

Lots of preparation for the Mission Leadership Council that we had on Thursday of this past week.  I felt like I was in college again, dealing with all the statistics and Excel spreadsheets to do with the numbers.  It was actually a very exciting experience thinking up different ways to show the statistics in various graphs and tables and whatnot.  Trust me, it was captivating :).  We had a great time setting up action plans to help get our mission "on fire."  Lots of input from the group, which was great.  

We do a lot of street contacting in neighborhoods to find people to teach.  We try to navigate to the video "Because He Lives" ( because it is a strong multimedia message that conveys our beliefs about the Savior Jesus Christ.  We teach about Christ, testify about him, and show the video.  It's interesting to see, though, some of the contacts, where the person is so enthralled and interested, don't amount to anything.  At the invitation to listen to more of what we have to say on a later date, we are rejected.  Just the other day, I contacted this one lady.  It was great, you could really feel the Spirit.  She even started bawling when she saw the video.  But when it came time to setting up an appointment, she flat out said no.  Life of a missionary!

Elder Fischer and I seem to have started a trend among missionaries in the mission.  Lots of "matching" companionships are starting to crop up.  Obviously they can't get on our level of companionship unity, but mimicry is the greatest form of flattery right?  (But really, no one can compete with our banana costumes).  It was our ward missionary leader’s 76th birthday this past week and we got him a card and printed out a couple pictures of us.  We put in the "banana split" picture and wrote, "thank you for always coming out on SPLITS with us."  I don't think he got what we were referring to, but he thought it was hilarious.

We had a zone "blitz" on Saturday, where we go out with a whole zone and go into a companionship's area to contact people and get referrals.  It was amazing.  Elder Fischer and I were like ping pong balls bouncing around the streets talking with everyone.  The blitz was for the Spanish Elders that cover our area so we got some potential for us as well.  You should all be proud of our Spanish though.  We set up 6 appointments with various people in an hour and a half.  Gift of tongues, right?

This next week is transfers, so we will be in a lot of meetings with President Mullen to decide on changes in the mission.  Will I have a new companion next week?  We'll see!!!

I didn't have any pictures from the week so here are some throwbacks:

Incoming missionary training meeting (Elder Fischer and I matching as usual)

Incoming missionary lunch

Incoming missionary lunch

Outgoing missionary dinner

Found this gem on the mission office computers

From way back when I was companions with Elder Zeng! found this, this past week

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

November 2, 2015

Fun week.  We finished the last multi-zone conference, which was really exciting! They're fun to do, but it kind of gets repetitive after doing five of them!  The fun part is comparing the lunches from each one.  I think Mexican street tacos take the cake.

We were leaving an investigator’s house and saw a laughing couple across the street.  They were holding a very small baby.  So, naturally I walk across the street to talk to them.  I opened my mouth to talk, and without saying a word, the guy flipped me his middle finger and then pointed to the ground, all while ushering his wife and baby back in the house and slamming the door.  I was a bit speechless.

I brought some CTR rings over to the family that has the awesome kids but the Dad won't let them come to church.  They were SO excited and I had them explain what "CTR" means to their parents, "Choose The Right."  Hopefully that will help soften their hearts!

Our ward's trunk-or-treat had a lot of pixie sticks (sp?) so I was craving more on Halloween (the party was the night before).  Lo and behold, at an intersection, a guy who I thought was panhandling was walking down the line of cars selling PIXIE STICKS.  I get my dollar out, ready to get however many that will buy me, and he sees us, and keeps walking.  Only then did I see the "Harvest" sticker on the bucket he was holding.  Harvest is a born again Christian church in Riverside that is not a big fan of us Mormons.  It was a bummer though.

We were contacting some people that supposedly live in the ward and stumbled on this apartment with a package slip on it.  We were looking for someone with a very Mexican name and the package slip had a Chinese name on it!  No one was home, but I left a Chinese card and wrote, "Call me" (in Chinese of course).  Maybe the novelty will force him to make the call!

On Halloween night, we had to be off the streets by 6 pm, so all the missionaries in our stake met up at the stake center.  Elder Fischer and I obviously had the best costumes.  We rolled up in banana costumes, with matching everything.  There were some funny stares at intersections when people saw us.  It's crazy because it's been a year since the last Halloween on my mission (obviously...).  I was in the same building on the same day, watching the same movie (The Best Two Years) which is weird to think about.

On the way to the Halloween party - We were getting some funny reactions at intersections


With our Bishop

Gotta get a Polaroid in there

Banana splits! 

We had a joint ward Halloween party with the Spanish ward because we share a building with them, so we took a picture with all us missionaries.  Elder Fischer and I are clearly the Spanish missionaries.  Our Español is so bien.  Also, no one gave me the memo that we were "smoldering" for the camera. so I'm just smiling like a fool.