Saturday, January 30, 2016

January 25, 2016

Multi zone conferences are finished!  Our version of Groundhog Day is done.  It's fun to observe the changes we make each training we do in the various zones.  We implemented a nice object lesson as part of the conferences.  Our mission is focusing on "getting on fire" and just diligently doing outstanding missionary work.  We made a nice table arrangement on each table to help us convey our message.  It consisted of one electric candle surrounded by a small ring of salt (not to be mistaken with snow - it does not snow in Riverside).

Why salt?  We shared the story of Lot's wife as part of us, as a mission, focusing on becoming on fire and moving forward with our new transition plan that will help us to progress. You can check Genesis Chapter 19 in the Old Testament for the un-abbreviated version.  Lot's wife is commanded by the Lord to leave Sodom and Gomorrah with her husband.  Unfortunately she glances back at her old life, and TURNS INTO A PILLAR OF SALT.  As a token of us not wanting to turn to salt like Lot's wife, Elder Westenskow and I invited all the missionaries to take a pinch of salt and put it in the "fire" (the electronic candle in our case - because apparently there can't be any open flames in the church building) to leave our past behind and change to become the best missionaries we can become.

We had a worldwide missionary training broadcast that was an outstanding reminder of our purpose as missionaries and the role we play in the conversion of new members.  They discussed how we can bring the message unto an investigator, but we cannot bring it "into" their heart.  That is their job to accept the message, which falls back on the core foundation that we all have agency to choose for ourselves what will truly make us happy.

A new approach to contacting that we're trying out is saying "we're your missionaries."  Because technically, we are everyone who lives in this area's "missionaries."  Some of them accept that, but some people kind of look at us like, "oh, I didn't know we had missionaries."  It's a cool approach to contacting and door approaches.

Our mission president came out with us last week for an evening, and at one door, we didn't even get the chance to try out this door approach.  After a couple knocks, the man finally came to the door, opened it, got a really angry look on his face, and said "NO," after which he slammed the door and wouldn't open it back up again.  I was a bit taken back, but it was a funny experience.

A highlight of the week was Sarah’s baptism! [name changed to protect the young]  Lots of fun to see her make this step.  After we got sisters in our ward, they started teaching her.  She lives in Norco which the sisters cover now.  

do you have the fire?

A young friend's baptism!  Elder Fischer got to come back to attend!

found another matching picture with the ties!

 Elder Westenskow said I looked like a "thug" after I got bundled up for basketball

multizone selfie (if you're companions with Elder Westenskow, selfies are a part of daily life)

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

January 18, 2015

“Richie” [name changed to protect the young] got confirmed this week, two weeks after his baptism.  He wasn't able to be confirmed last week because his mom ended up taking his church clothes to go wash in the morning before church, and wasn't back home in time.  He wouldn't DARE show up to church without his white shirt and tie, no matter how much I told him that his clothes did NOT matter.  Some of his family showed up to church for his confirmation though.  They were so proud of him.  It was so cute to see him teach them how to flip through the hymn books and find the hymns we would be singing.

I enjoyed spending time with a recent church convert in Corona on exchanges again.  It's amazing to see how much he has progressed since I taught him in Corona.  He truly has taken the Gospel in stride in his life and is an amazing missionary!  Teaching with him is really fun.  

Since our mission conference, I've been asking a lot more questions in my teaching.  One of the investigators we taught in Corona said I was like a psychiatrist, getting all this information out of her through questions.  Their answers reveal a lot and really help us missionaries in the teaching process to teach to their needs.

We're teaching this granddaughter of a member who comes to church every week.  It's really fun because we give each other homework at the end of each lesson.  We can't give her homework without her giving us some too!  Usually part of that homework involves getting Hershey's nuggets chocolates for her and reading from the Book of Mormon stories picture Book of Mormon.  It is very fun!

Old ladies didn't seem to be fans of us this week.  We tried to contact a few and each time they just turned around and started walking back to their house.  We must be very intimidating missionaries!

We started our California Riverside Mission version of Groundhog Day this past week.  We have multi-zone conferences we have to do every day to varying zones.  It feels like the same thing over and over again.  The cool thing is we learn a new thing at every conference so I guess it's worth it!

With recent church convert on exchanges in Corona!

A member gave our young friend a "future missionary" tag.  The picture where he's smiling is blurry, but he's smiling! 

One of our members' dogs had puppies.  It's tiny!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

January 11, 2016

Really busy week, had lots of meetings and mission conferences, but highlights!:

Crazy rain with El Nino coming to Riverside!  Our parking lot flooded. Good thing I had my rain boots and umbrella!

During exchanges I got "elote" cut up in a cup (it's the Mexican corn with mayonnaise and cheese). Apparently it's called "ezquite" (sp?) but it wasn't very good. The smile in the pictures below doesn't show the stomach ache later.

[A visiting church general authority’s] presentations were amazing.  It was great to listen to what he had to say. 

The way he presented, I also took note of.  He always said "may I share an observation..." then he would share it.  It was a very non-threatening way to offer advice, suggestions, or just opinions and observations.  He found the "bright spots" in our organization (the mission) and focused on that, then talked about how we could improve.  It made it a lot easier to accept it.  

He also discussed how we need to "let it go" and permit ourselves to change. We need to be willing to give up who we are for who we can become.  You get more when you give away what you're holding on to.  

He discussed being "sober" and having a quiet dignity among us.  Being light hearted but not light minded.  When we're sober, we are observant, we are not distracted by trivial things or noise that we or others create, and we can see what's going on around us.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

January 4, 2016

Transfer week!  Always fun because we get to drive the BIG van to the airport and back.  It's fun being so high up in the air.  It lets ME bully people on the street, instead of getting bullied in my little Corolla!  It's always fun driving home with the new missionaries and hearing all their impressions of the Riverside mission.  

Most exciting part of the week, getting chased down a guy's very long driveway as he dropped the most f-bombs I've honestly ever heard in my life, squeezed into 2 minutes.  Best comment "I'm going to kick you down my [...] driveway!"  He didn't do it, fortunately.  

We got President and Sister Mullen a scarf and a tie for Christmas that is matching purple!  So at the District Leader training meeting, we wore our matching ties from Bishop, while they decided to wear their Christmas presents to match as well.  Finally got them matching too!

We had Richie's [name changed to protect the young] baptism on Sunday which was awesome!  He was all dressed up in his white shirt and tie and was really excited for his big day.  His Grandma attended which was awesome.  There's a special spirit at baptisms, she was in tears.  We had a heart to heart with his family the day before his baptism.  They're very supportive of Richie, but when it comes to them committing, that's the hard part.  We had a nice discussion about the church though, and how it lifts us both spiritually and temporally. 

When people are in need, they really turn to the gospel and allow it to lift them.  They mentioned how they'd seen a change in Richie.  This past Saturday when we went by to confirm everything for his baptism, he had been acting up a little.  The Grandma said it was the "devil" trying as hard as he could to stop Richie from being baptized.  She said that when Richie was fussing, they told him, Richie you better stop or else we're going to call Elder Dyer and have him come here.  I ended up showing up anyway, but apparently he just calmed down.  It's fun teaching him, and knowing I'm having such a good influence on his life.  

Richie and his brother are very active, but when we get there for a lesson, we get down the business. They'll be running around but when I say, alright Richie, it's time to start, who's saying the opening prayer? He scurries over and folds his arms and sits down ready to listen.  It's the cutest thing.

We got President and Sister Mullen a matching purple scarf and tie for Christmas, and they wore it to a training meeting! We had to match too.

With my young friend before his baptism!

With my young friend and his Grandma!