Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sacrifices and blessings

Hi all.

Transfers are always a gigantic surprise every time. Just when you think you have every path laid out and is prepared to except the unexcepted, it's almost always something you never except. Last week, my companion has been transferred to the California San Jose Mission, and the ASL program has been stepped back to two areas (grr...) for the time being.

My new companion is Elder Leavell. He's a cool guy. And small world of a small world, he's from Las Vegas. Weird, huh? He's from the rich side of Vegas (the north-western part of town, I think?) He has a personality that reminds me a lot of Jared's. In fact, almost the same, expect more wackier, and it brings back a lot of memories.




Last friday, the Los Angeles Visitor's center has been dedicated, by Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. When word came around that Elder Nelson was coming to town, Elder Leavell pulled in some favors from high places and got us to attend the dedicatory service with some recent converts. It was a very solemn occasion, and I saw a lot of promient people from all over LA in the room. As Elder Nelson said the dedicatory prayer, one thing he spoke impressed me a lot. He asked the Lord to bless the full-time missionaries, that they can go great strides in the work, and that the missionaries can take full advantage of the visitor's center, that they may use it as a effective instrument in the gathering of Israel. WOW. After the service, I had the wonderful opportunity to shake Elder Nelson's hand. It's a weird feeling... his hand is SO soft and he radiates the spirit...

Did you know that in little under a year have I been less than 50 feet from six Apostles but have never been able to actually shake hands with one of them until last friday. oy...

Othat than that, things are going ok here. Getting used to the extra work here now. We're teaching a sweet old lady named Mary Sepulveda, and she has a BURNING desire to learn more about the gospel. We met her 2 weeks ago, and she's already halfway through the Book of Mormon before we even committed her to read anything, and everything we taught, he absorbed it right up and is getting some of her friends to be taught the gospel. =O She has a baptismal date for November 7. She's very golden, I tell you.

Well, bye for now.

--
____
-E.T. {0 ^ 0} __o
\ / //

Another General Conference come and go...

Received October 5th

Hi all.

General Conference was very sobering. 5 MORE TEMPLES! What more, somehow for the past 3 weeks, I had this enormous hunch that they would announce more temples at this general conference. Wow. What a revelation.

During the course of General Conference, I was stricken with the impression that the Lord needs more Full-time Missionaries and that He is concerned about Satan's growing influence in the world. I noticed that several of the speakers were talking all about the gift of agency, or the gift to choose and act for ourselves, and that Satan is fighting hard to take that gift from us and get us to be miserable like he is. In many parts of Los Angeles, this message often echoes true. A lot of people here live in poverty and live in dangerous neighborhoods because of a series of choices they made and now they have limited choices (for example, not having a car, not affording a home, or probably in their lives will never be able to get good jobs). In principle, they're trapped (in fact, we found out that one of our investigators is in jail now), and it's kind of sad. I wish I could help them make better choices and thus lead to better freedom, then it hit me that, as full-time missionaries, we are exactly in a position to help them make better choices. then it HIT me that the lord needs MORE full-time missionaries to help MORE people make better choices and to help in the battle against Satan's evil incluence.

Last week, I encouraged all the youth in my ward to consider a full-time mission. I will not repeat what I said last week (you can just scroll down on my blog and look it up if you want) but I'm going to say more, and I'm going to say it to every able-bodied young man and woman who will read this, not just those in my ward. Satan's influence is real. I see it all the time here in Los Angeles, not just in Las Vegas, and I'm pretty sure that it is the same the world over. You can help in the fight against Satan. In fact, I WANT you to help. The Lord WANTS you to. Much of the time we are too causal about this. We are in the final dispensation. The "end-game" in the history of mankind. Satan is fighting harder than ever and all the stakes are on the table. President Ezra Taft Benson said:
"For nearly six thousand years, God has held you in reserve to make your appearance in the final days before the Second Coming of the Lord. Every previous gospel dispensation has drifted into apostasy, but ours will not. True, there will be some individuals who will fall away; but the kingdom of God will remain intact to welcome the return of its head--even Jesus Christ. While our generation will be comparable in wickedness to the days of Noah, when the Lord cleansed the earth by flood, there is a major difference this time. It is that God has saved for the final inning some of his strongest children, who will help bear off the Kingdom triumphantly. And that is where you come in, for you are the generation that must be prepared to meet your God.
All through the ages the prophets have looked down through the corridors of time to our day. Billions of the deceased and those yet to be born have their eyes on us. Make no mistake about it--you are a marked generation. There has never been more expected of the faithful in such a short period of time as there is of us. Never before on the face of this earth have the forces of evil and the forces of good been as well organized. Now is the great day of the devil's power, with the greatest mass murderers of all time living among us. But now is also the great day of the Lord's power, with the greatest number ever of priesthood holders on the earth. And the showdown is fast approaching.
Each day the forces of evil and the forces of good pick up new recruits. Each day we personally make many decisions that show where our support will go. The final outcome is certain--the forces of righteousness will finally win. What remains to be seen is where each of us personally, now and in the future, will stand in this fight--and how tall we will stand. Will we be true to our last-days, foreordained mission?"
I know that if you serve a full time mission, the Lord will bless you in more things than you can imagine. As a full-time missionary, you can make yourself extraordinary. As each of us help out, the devil's power becomes weaker. I know that as all of us pur forth all our best efforts to accomplish the Lord's purposes, we can overcome Satan forever. I love you all and I want the best for all of you, and I know missionary service will definitely help you do that.


One more thing, I came up with a cool quote: "Every member is a missionary. We are the front lines"

--
____
-E.T. {0 ^ 0} __o
\ / //

Father and Son Gets Soaked

Hi all.

This week have been hard, but so wonderful at the same time... This week, we've had unusually cloudless weather and high temperatures (almost like a heat wave) so that meant working under the scorching sun. The Los Angelenos call it an "Indian Summer" so I'm guesing that it happens sometimes.

Nevertheless, the Lord always blesses you for your faith and efforts. Many of our investigators are growing a testimony and progressing a bit at a time, although they haven't come to church yet. The good thing is that this week, we enjoyed having a lot of people come to Sacrament meeting, Investigators and Less-Actives alike (The Branch President said 83 people showed up), and we are also very pleased to have three new people into the fold. Sister Krystal Caywood two weeks ago gave birth to a healthy and beautiful daughter, and Father and Son Juan Guzman Sr and Juan Guzman Jr whom I talked about two week ago have been baptized yesterday afternoon. Juan Guzman Sr is very heavy so at first we thought that there might have to be two people in the water to help baptize him, but our Zone Leader, Elder Amundsen (the orange-haired elder in the picture) baptized him without any problem.




Received Sept 19th
This baptism service has been very intense, because it is the first baptism in our branch to be translated in three different languages since Juan Sr. only speaks spanish and several of his family who attended preferred spanish. I think that the spirit has touched them very strongly, and that means a lot of good things in the near future. Since a LOT of families in Los Angeles are spanish-speaking, the Branch Presidency is adjusting the branch structure to accomodate these people. In two weeks, we are going to announce the calling of someone to teach the Sunday School in Spanish. (My guess is either Rodrigo Perez, Brother or Sister Martinez, or Brother or Sister Calderon). Little by little, the Branch is slowly becoming a Ward. In fact so that President Sutton is already talking with the Stake President about increasing the branch to Ward status around the next year... President Hales joked that at the rate things are going, There might be a deaf Stake here in Southern California very soon. Sutton then remarked "Yes, and you can be it's first stake president.". Hales then said "Yes... I might need to learn ASL first."

I love you guys and thanks for all your prayers. Hump day is rolling around (November 3) so it's kind of freaky. Missionary work really is working all kinds of havoc on my normal time sync because I feel I have only been here for at least 1/4 of that time. Something have been chewing on my mind all week, so I want to add a quick message to all the men and young men in my ward who might or might not be considering the opportunities of a mission: GO ON ONE. Your life aspirations really only last a lifetime, but I KNOW that a mission WILL bless you and other lives you touch, FOREVER. I know it because I want you all to go. I want Ryan Lindquist to put his music carrer on a short hold and serve a mission. I want DJ Kesterson and Steven Stewart to put their brains together and come back to church and go on a mission. I want the Jennings and the Mulvey Boys to go on a mission because it will bless their lives infinitely. I want Jordan Torres and Tim Olsen and Daniel Tomola, and all the other young men to get ready for a mission because this extraordinary opportunity only comes ONCE (well, sure, you can serve again when you have arthritis and kidney stones. And even so, you'll just be teaching people about family history. Isn't that fun?) so I want ALL OF YOU to take advantage of that precious opportinity to preach the gospel and to build a steadfast testimony of the truth for yourself. Besides, it'll go be pretty past, and before it hits you, you'll already be home from your mission and planning for college and other stuff.

Plus, most LDS women loves RM's. Think about it.

--
____
-E.T. {0 ^ 0} __o
\ / //

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Fall is a-coming.

One way Los-Angelenos know that a change of seasons is coming is that a THICK fog whips up almost every morning. It makes our morning ultimate-frisbee exercises a lot more challenging because it's hard to see the frisbee into all the soup. Of course, we never let that deter us, except in cases of torrential rain, which we will eventually get as the autumn rolls on. Ha ha.

Hi all.

Vitaliy received the holy ghost yesterday and he was pretty thrilled about it. We hope he will be a great addition to the branch. Meanwhile, We WILL have more baptisms rolling in this month. 2 weeks ago, we committed a whole family to baptism next week, and they're REALLY working towards it. The Guzmans have a deaf son named Juan. It's a interesting way HOW we found them. last month, we had a dinner appoint with the Gillespie family from our Branch. Kim Gillespie intended to cook us some dinner but her son spilled the sauce, which made dinner pretty much kaput so she asked us to fetch some pizza which she'll cover. Ok, will do. So we stopped at nearly La Pizza Loco (Home of the enormous 32 incher, by the way) and got some large pizzas. While waiting, we noticed a boy with an cochlear implant (That's Juan) so my companion and I struck up conversation to get his attention. We found that his home is in ASL south's area so we referred him there and they taught Juan. When the ASL program areas was split and re-organized, Juan's family surprisingly fell into OUR area so we took up the teaching. The Guzman family mostly speak Spanish so we had the Zone Leaders (We're tight with them so we pulled in some favors) and sometimes some spanish members from our branch to help out. The whole family totally absorbed everything we taught them and asked many questions. The father, Juan Sr., even gave up coffee BEFORE any missionaries taught him at all. I could call them a "Golden" family but they don't have a car and they have a broken home so that's a challenge.

Well, our branch is s l o w l y becoming a Ward. Yesterday, our Branch president reorganized the sacrament-passing process and also introduced Priesthood opening exercises, as every other ward has. We're pretty excited about it.

Recently, I thought about something. Los Angeles is one grand melting pot of different cultures, with all kind of different languages, especially among the deaf, but American Sign Language is such a wonderful tool of communication that binds all of them together and I guess that's why our small branch is one of the most culturally diverse in the church. We have White, Black, Hispanic, Latino, Hawaiian, Native American, Samoan, Korean, Chinese, and French, to name some, and now we enjoy a Russian among us. Truly, our branch alone is proof of partial fulfillment of the prophecy that the gospel shall be preached to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people.

Bye for now.

--
____
-E.T. {0 ^ 0} __o
\ / //

Now things are getting serious!

This transfer came as a HUGE surprise to us last week. Our endless debates with the mission president has finally paid off and the areas in the ASL program here in Los Angeles has been divided and rearranged. As of this point forward, Los Angeles now has SIX missionaries in THREE companionships in THREE areas (ASL South, ASL East and ASL West). We're really excited about this because the ASL program is no longer weak anymore. It has became strong once again and is growing. We hope that in the near future, Salt Lake City can send some more missionaries over to Los Angeles and we can focus on adding ASL North into the mix. Right now, finding more people to teach is our main priority.

Oh, and we want an official ASL District. We just need a District Leader of our own. Hopefully that'll happen next transfer or so. Elder Franson, our current District Leader, is good, but an ASL District Leader is better, at least for us. Maybe we can talk the president into dragging back Elder Cordy, who was our DL before.


In other news, Vitaliy FINALLY got baptized last sunday! The whole week, we ran around like rats getting everything ready for his baptism and we prayed a lot, but everything went smoothly... almost. Vitaliy asked me to baptize him. I was so nervous (plus they turned on the wrong faucet and the baptismal water was FREEZING) I fumbled on the first try and had to do it all over. WHOOPS. But the good thing is that Vitaliy felt the spirit strongly and talked about it all the way home. Cool. I bet he's going to be excited to get the holy ghost next sunday. Vitaliy is an awesome guy and I hope he stays strong from now on!

Well, that's baptism #6.

Anyhoo, right now, Elder Franco and I are getting used to our new area. we plan to get a large-scale map and some tacks soon so we can pinpoint all of our deaf people we're working together. As you can see, this transfer was a HUGE change. In fact, they don't even have another apartment ready yet so 4 of our missionaries had to share one apartment. I must imagine it'd be really cramped having only one bedroom and only one bathroom for everyone to share, plus dish washing and laundry would be a nightmare, let alone the daily morning schedule. Luckily, Elder Franco and I don't have to go through that.

--
____
-E.T. {0 ^ 0} __o
\ / //

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Letter from Zack

This week seems to be doing better. For one thing, I thought hard about what I had been feeling the previous weeks, and I've decided to stop caring about how not-normal the other ASL missionaries is. This is the Lord's work, and it's not about me anymore. There are people here in Los Angeles who are candidates for eternal life but has yet to know truth. This week, a cool thing happened.

A few weeks ago, We had the privilege of practicin our teaching skills with President Sutton, and that day, He helped me realize how I can do a LOT better as a teacher. I realized that a lot of deaf people are not really excited about church because they don't understand what is being taught. All along, we've been trying to stick to Preach my Gospel, but what we should be doing is teaching the simple doctrines of the church in terms they CAN understand. For example, deaf people migh not understand about the terms: prophets, relvation, repentance, baptism, sacrament, even God himself so what we should do is break it down to one principle at a time and cover a lot of room for clarification and such. since that day, we've been redefining our traching skills. well, this week produced surprising results. Two of our investigators we taught this week, both youth named Pedro Perez and Richard Pena seened to pay more attention. Pedro even said that he understood us very clearly and enjoyed it and asked when we can come back (Before, he was struggling to decide whether to join the LDS church or the (violin screeching) Jehovah Witnesses'). I'm excited to apply our new teaching skills to use with all the other youth (we have quite a few, since there's a deaf school (called Marlton school) in our area), and I hope soon, we'll finally have a nucleus of youth coming to church, and eventually Deacons and Teachers and Priests, and Young Women, which will totally help the deaf branch into becoming a Ward. After the youth program is taken care of, I guess the only thing needed left is a quorum of High Priests, and since we only have two of them, we obviously need more. The Branch President's two counselors seems to be coming back on the right track so I guess the boat is floating for now.

Other than that, this week went ok. I can't believe August is half over already. It felt like only two or three days whizzed right on by. Guess you'd batter start looking for a stuffed camel soon because Hump Day is in 2 1/2 months. It seems to be a little chillier now, especially during our 6:00 AM Ultimate Frisbee exercises.

--
____
-E.T. {0 ^ 0} __o
\ / //

Sunday, July 11, 2010

OUR GOD IS A GOD OF MIRACLES.

Hi all.

There's so much I want to talk about so I'm typing as fast as I can so please forgive any spelling errors. How do I sum up my whole week so far? I 'd say just this scripture:

"And it did work for them according to their faith in God; therefore, if they had faith to believe that God could cause that those spindles should point the way they should go, behold, it was done; therefore they had this miracle, and also many other miracles wrought by the power of God, day by day." (Book of Mormon, Alma 37:40)

The Independence Day week was nothing short of extraordinary, Sunday the most of them all. Still, I'll go with how the week began. Last Tuesday, as we were teaching a new investigator, named Joey Lopez, Elder Franco and I followed a very strong spiritual prompting and changed our lesson plans RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE of teaching about God's commandments, and taught about the aspect of God wanting families to be united eternally. Well, it struck a big chord with Joey and he became SO interested into the subject, asking us a lot of questions about how he can have a eternal family. And we didn't even teach him any of the basic gospel principles yet! The next day, while teaching him and his girlfriend at a park, we followed YET ANOTHER strong spiritual prompting and committed Joey to baptism right on the spot. What shocked me even more is that he said right that second "Alright. Let's do it.". We have a date for baptism on July 25 and a LOT of ground to cover with Joey so I just know we will be visiting him very often.

This week, Hadlock and I went on 2-day splits with our District Leader. the first split was on Thursday (Elder Jackson with the other ASL elders, which mean Hadlock tagged along with Franco and I), which coincidentally landed on Sports Night, an activity in our branch that takes place once every 2 weeks and branch wants us to attend because it's a good missionary tool. We were very scared because our district leader is very strict and doesn't really understand the ASL program. That, and for the last few months, all we can get to come to sports night were about 2 or 3 people, making it kind of suffer. If Elder Jackson saw that there were no one coming to Sports night, he would discuss with the mission president about banning all missionaries from sports night permanently! so all of us prayed really hard and talked with everyone we could think of via cell phone, video phone, and friends. As the night came, we braced ourselves for the inevitable.

First one person came, then the 2nd, then oh at least 35! the gym was packed full of people wanting to come to socialize and have fun. And the most of all, most of those people were not members of the church. My jaw nearly dropped to the floor. This sports night, I think, has been the most enjoyable one ever since I first came to Los Angeles.

The next day, Friday, Elder Jackson splitted with Elder Franco, means I was with Hadlock and Elder Western that day, in my old area. the day was OK, and then we has an appointment to meet a new investigator named Renea Lee at a Starbucks near the South Bay Galleria. Funny thing, that Friday night happened to be a "deaf Starbucks night" and we got to meet a lot of new deaf people who are friends of Renea. I had a very interesting experience as I met a deaf man named William who is a "deaf power" (It's like racial pride). He acted friendly until he saw Hadlock's cochlear implant and ranted about "Why would deaf people want to be hearing??" like a drunken politician. It was kind of funny.

Last Sunday, the 4th of July, surprised me at EVERY turn. The whole month, all of us were completely excepting the church to be like a ghost town because of the holiday. That, and it was fast Sunday and Independence day fell on the sabbath. Never before had we been more wrong. while some didn't come, People CAME. and a good number of them, even investigators! I guess you know the real measure in a person's heart when he or she chooses to put patriotism to their country second to God. Joey Lopez also came. During testimony meeting, I felt prompted to pray, and I prayed that Joey would stand up and share his testimony. The second I said "Amen", Joey immediately stood up, walked over to the podium, and testified about the truthfulness of the gospel. (He have not even read the book of Mormon or prayed yet!) After church, we did some tracting with amazing results, having placed two books of Mormon, taught 4 lessons, and got 2 referrals. That night, the zone leaders called all the missionaries together at the Artesia chapel where we listened to 2 speakers from the Gardena and Lawndale Wards teach and testify about the importance of Independence Day, and how it helped provide a suitable environment of a free country where Joseph Smith could restore the church. it was very spiritual. As we went back ot our apartment, we got to watch a big firework display right from our apartment windows. Our apartment is 3 floors up and overlooking a nearby park, making it possibly the only apartment in the mission with a prime spot for being able to watch the fireworks without breaking any rules (It being 9:30, we being already inside our apartment and sacred 30 was over). If I were you, I'd think that the Lord has blessed me a hundred times over that day, and that He is letting me know that He appreciates me for giving my 2 years to serve the Lord.


God Bless America. And God bless Los Angeles.

E. T.

WHERE DID JUNE GO?!?!?!

Hi Mom and Dad. And all others.

I just had a very frightening revelation. Do you realize that July 11 means my mission will be 1/3 over? Where on earth did the last 8 months go? Well, I can say this: Forget those high school summer vacations. Missions are the one that needs to SLOW DOWN. June flashed past as if it had only been a week long. I LOVE LOS ANGELES.

Well... you know, anyway.

Elder Franco is amazing. Definitely miles better than old Elder Pessimism. Franco has a very open, very positive attitude, has a lot of cool ideas, and we agree on a lot of things. I guess as long as I have him, everything will go swimmingly, but I don't know about Elder Van Dam yet (STILL not yet in the ASL program. Fancy that...) so we'll see what happens. I hope he does come in soon. He's a great guy too.

Vitaliy (The deaf Russian guy) is off on a cruise with his family, so he will not be at home or church for awhile so we can't teach him. Bummer... We did on the other hand commit him to baptism on July 11-18 and he happily accepted so we're staying hopeful. Three weeks ago, Franco and the other elder (I was not yet transferred) taught him the word of wisdom since he's a big coffee drinker. They said that Vitaliy was really bummed about it. Well, the next visit, I with Elder Franco, of course, found that he has TOTALLY kicked out his coffee habits and substituted on Pomegrante juice and milk. He's made amazing strides since then. I guess the true gospel really does inspire people to take better courses in their lives.

Well, I'm absolutely giddy. Why? one of our investigator houses turned out to be this mini deaf community. The investigators' names are Ana, Juan, and Jennifer (That is as it is at the moment) and they have a big family and a LOT of deaf friends who drop by every now and then, and maybe even more to refer to us. The three are very interested in the gospel, and they feel they're "the foundation of all their peers", so we think this is a golden, nay, DIAMOND opportunity. Why? If we can help them accept the gospel, most likely all others will follow them in their example. We are talking about not 5, not 10, but at least 25 potential baptisms, making the branch leadership goal of 40 baptisms in a year ridiculously easy. Wishful thinking, I know, but I'm a believer of miracles along with fasting and prayer so I think everything will work out great. I think that if we just "Do it", with all the help from the Lord, the Torrance 4th Deaf Branch is well on it's way in becoming the Torrance Deaf Ward.

And that's only scratching the surface.

According to intelligence (our branch president), There is enough deaf people in all of LA county to form at least 4 or 5 Deaf stakes/districts. A humbling thing to know, don't you think? But one step at a time. One step at a time. Focus on the little snowball first.

Time's up. gotta go.

____
-E.T.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

My 1st transfer

Hi all.

Yep. I just got transferred last wednesday. My new area is ASL North, with Elder Franco. It's a really big shock for me but I'm slowly adapting into it. New area, new people, new places, the whole works. At least a few days ago, We just found a really cool investigator named Vitaliy Dreyer, and he is deaf. He was born and grew up in Russia near Novosibirsk (I think) before moving here in West Hollywood! He knows a lot about Russian culture as it's really cool learning about his life experiences. Since I'm 1/8th Russian, I've pretty much related easily with him. We think that he may be a golden investigator. We'll see what happens.

FYI, tracting in the Santa Monica/Beverly Hills area is a bad idea. There's a lot of Jews and Homosexuals and all of them want nothing to do with us. In my personal opinion, we're better off in Watts than with the upper-class. I feel like I'm in the story of the Zoramites and the Ramuemptom. If you don't know that story, ask a LDS friend, or read the Book of Mormon for yourself. Coolio, yes?

Besidea that, Elder Franco is an awesome missionary. He's very patient, has a very postive attitude, and he know that "(beep) happens" all the time, even in missionary work. I know we'll have a good companionship and thus be more effective in the Lord Work, unlike, alas, my now-former companion, but I'm not going to talk about him right now. Besides, all in the past now, right?

Sacrament meeting was good, but obviously, I wish it was better. We've invited and commited 18 investigators and less-actives to church, but only 3 came. (all less-active). This week, we just gotta bring the hammer down on them and let them know that we love them just that much. In my new area, we're teaching 3 deaf-oriented families so that is a lot of people to cover and a lot of baptisms to look forward to.


Anyway, I gotta go. Time is short.


-ET

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Few new Pics from Elder Tritsch



Colorful stairway



Blowing bubbles with Brother Bannon Fu



Elder Tritsch and David Spencer

Thursday, May 27, 2010

5/24/10 Baptism




Hi all.

Well, We finally ended a dry spell with a baptism last sunday. Lulu finally went the big dunk. She is a really awesome woman and will be a wonderful asset to the growth of our branch, and she is AMAZING at ASL stories. I baptized her, of course. We have beeing asking around for a memer to baptize her, but Lulu would rather that it be me, so it is kind of a honor. Well, one down, thousands to go.

Other than this starry highlight, not much went on in my week. It seemed that a lot of people wasn't home so we drove around a lot for nothing. At least we got free lemons.

This morning, we had a fun p-day where we all got to dress up in cowboy clothes. I decided to stand out of the rest and dress up as an indian. All the outfits and props were courtesy of members from the Redondo Beach ward.

E. T.





5/19/10





Hi All,

Short letter this week but some nice pictures.

Lulu's baptism is now confirmed for THIS sunday (finally), barring any unforeseen circumstances, and I'm praying really hard that none of it comes around. We've being visiting her so much lately making sure that the devil didn't manage to lead her astray, although I must imagine it feels annoying on both of our parts. at least I'll be able to breathe when Lulu goes the big dunk. Speaking of which, Lulu just asked me to baptize her personally. That will be fantastic.

E.T.


- Mormon Helping Hands Day! We helped clean up a park and wildlife refuge.
- Elder Hadlock
- Me!
- May the force be with you.

05/03/10

Hi all.

Lulu Diaz is GETTING BAPTIZED next week! She accepted all the lessons well, is abiding by all the commandments, and is growing a testimony about the restored Gospel. She will have a baptism interwiew this thursday and then everything is all set for a dunking.

A really sweet thing happened yesterday at sacrament Meeting. Our investigator, Lorena Reynoso brought his daughter to church. At one point during the sacrament, I overheard (actually, "over-saw" in my case) Lorena explain to his young daughter about the importance of the sacrament in remembering the Christ. It sorta made my heart melt. Also, over the course of church meetings, Lorena's daughter enjoyed primary so much that she begged her mother to let her stay a little longer. We want SO much for them to learn and accept the gospel and ordinances. Unfortunately, there's just this teeny weeny problem: Lorena's husband is a devout catholic and is against the church. Well, actually, that was a tad thick. Not like "MORMONS PRACTICE POLYGAMY!", more like "No thanks. I'm really not interested" and then slam the door in our faces. =( We really hope that over the course of time, Lorena will be able to have her husband listen to and benefit from the message of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.

When I said this transfer would bring big changes, boy, was I right and wrong at the same time. First of all, We STILL do not have permission to go to Long Beach, which really sucks. Whatever. I'll just wait for the new mission presidency to come in two months and take it from there. Secondly, Our now former District Leader, Elder Cordy, was transferred out of the ASL program and is now back to spanish-speaking. Our new DL is Elder Jackson. Also, this might come as a shock to my brother Jared, but his arch-nemesis whise name I dare not type on here for fear of my brother's wrath, is now in our zone.

Thirdly, we just (shudder) moved in a new apartment, up in Hawthorne. I'm not really pleased with our new apartment. For one, it needs new paint, new oven and laundry machines, and there's bars on our windows. Also, It's in a weird location because our new apartment is more north than the other ASL missionaries' apartment, and they work the north and we work south, which really doesn't make sense. I'll have to discuss it with my mission president during interviews in two weeks.


- E.T.

4/26/10


Hi all.

Last sunday, we had a LOT of new investigators come to sacrament meeting and enjoy the spirit too. Our investigator Lulu expressed a strong want to come back next sunday. She is getting baptized for sure! I learned a really interesting thing yesterday. Lulu and Tony Venegas, an active member in our branch, USED TO HAVE A ROMANTIC RELATIONSHIP together but decided they were better off just good friends. Also, another of our investigators who came, Lorena R. grew up with Lulu back in school and they knew each other a long time since. Walt Disney was wrong. It's a TINY world after all. Well, at least when it comes to Los Angeles, one of the biggest cites in the world.

I just had a frightening relevation. In 2 weeks, I'll have hit my 6-month mark, which means soon, 1/4 of my mission will be over already. Yikes. It didn't even feel like that long, not even close. It's as if yesterday I was just drying off from leaving behind a teary mom at reporting-in day at the MTC. (I still DON'T miss the awful MTC food though. Some of you might think it's awesome to have burgers and fries everyday but trust me when I say you'll get sick of it pretty fast!) I'm really afraid to blink, beacuse I just know the second I open my eyes, I'll be married, have a dreary job in corporate world somewhere, and a little bundle of joy is coming along the way. ={

Over the week, I have had a few companion splits with the missionaries working the north part of LA. It was a cool experience meeting many new people. Elder Cordy is a pretty cool teacher, and I learned a lot of tips and methods from him. That, and he is the District Leader here in the ASL program.

Also, the Maravillas Family accepted a baptism date for May 19. The only and big problem is that the husband, Luis has to work on sunday, and his boss refuses to allow him to take a few sundays off. =( We're really praying that a opportunity will open up for Luis, that will allow them to be able to come to church.


E.T.

4/19/10

Hi all.

One exciting thing happened yesterday is that our sacvrament meeting attendance experienced a unexcepted spike. A lot of our less-actives finally got their act together and showed up at church, also many of our investigators. The cool thing is that one of many of our investigators came to sacrament meeting and he is a (woman in shower screaming before being stabbed to death by man behind curtain in that old movie whose name escapes me right now.) Jehovah Witness. You gotta love the power of priesthood. In fact, the other day, we had a look-down (exchanging glares like two guys in the old west before high-noon) with some signing JWs outside a house of one of our recent converts. We won. =P

Also... WE HAVE A BAPTISMAL DATE. Lulu Diaz, one of our investigators, is getting baptized on May 9. We committed 3 others to baptism but all of them said they weren't ready and so they asked us to wait. Whatever. At least one said yes.

This week, we're going to really crack it down on the Maravillas family and see to it that they say yes to baptism. They're a cool family that have a strong knowledge of the gospel (many missionaries has been teaching them including my brother). They even have a testimony too but they just won't take sundays off to come to church. Also, the really (missionary censored) thing is that they wanted to put off baptism for TEN MONTHS so their youngest son can be old enough so the all of them can be baptised at once. ??? This calls for Alma 34:32-34 and Moroni chapter 8!

We'll see what happens. We're trying to see to it that the next transfer brings with it so many baptisms that they have to refill the baptismal font with clean water every now and then! Speaking of which, transfers are next week. We're really hoping that there will be big changes that transfer, mainly moving up to three different companionships and re-opening Long Beach to the preaching of the gospel among the deaf.


E.T.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Two Pictures from Facebook



Pictures taken by a David Spencer from the Torrance 4th Branch for the Deaf.

Sunny Days At the Beach



Hi all,

Today, we had a spedial beach p-day where our zone got to frolick around in the sand, smell the brisk salty air, and get some real UV rays. And also play some beach volleyball. Granted, we was allowed only two hours per who knows how long, to go to the beach, but it was fun nonetheless.

Manhattan Beach makes me crazy, you know? They have all those incredibly nice houses that descend towards the beach, so there's a nice view of everything. It makes me want to live in Manhattan Beach for the rest of my life. The real shocker, however, is that I found out that it costs at least $1,000,000 to own the average house (I think) in Manhattan Beach. Yikes. For that much money, I could get an mansion in Utah with all the spiffs and still have money left over to get a really nice car and start a college fund for my kids. One day I'm thinking living in Utah is better, than the next day, I'm thinking Manhattan beach is more awesome. BUT IT'S SO NICE. BUT IT'S CLEANER AND FRIENDLIER IN UTAH. but it's near a beach! but there's a bigger deaf ward in utah! It's near a lot of californian events and tourist attractions! but there's lots of nature in utah! we get nature in the yosemite mountains too! Yes! No! Yes! No! Absolutely! Definitely not! For sure! NEVER! maybe? hrrrf. I'll just have to see how much money I get our of my future successful career as a comedy writer, and also see what my future wife thinks about it all.

Yesterday was kind of a sweet-to-bitter day. In church, we have a member called Angel Sorto who is quite active and the missionaries and I am good friends with him. He seemed content, was friendly, and liked to chat often. Well, after churcdh, when most everyone went home, my companions and I went ahead and used the Video Phone to arrange appointments with all the investigators and Less-Active members (like we do every sunday). In the midst of that, we received a phone call from Angel Sorto that shocked me to my soul. For one, the person we saw on the computer screen wasn't the one we saw at church today. His face was ashen and despondent. We learned that he found his wife in the bathroom, having already departed from this world during the time that he was in church. Angel was in a panic and at a total loss of what to do. I immediately encouraged him to calm down and then soon we had President Suttion take control of the situation. The funeral date is not yet set, but we have been asked to help Angel in any way necessary should he ask for it.


Misionary work is always so full of surprises.


-E.T. (Many of the missionaries nicknamed me that because of my initials. Nice, huh?)


PHOTOS!


- Me! (Think I look slimmer now?)
_ My Entire Zone: Let me see if I can recall all their names, from top to bottom, starting from left.

Cordy, ZL Amundsen, Isaacson, Lingam, Rogers, Richins, Shimta, Welling, Trinidad, France, Hadlock, ZL Gardner, Hoggan, Sisters Tittle and Nef, Vizcaino, Sung, Vaca-Guzman, Western, Leavell, [can't remember :( ], Me, McDonald, Salazar, Gishie, and Wells.

Blog: Zone Conference, Long Beach, and General conference into one week.


Hi all.

This week was intense. first of all, a little spider bit me on my arm. Nothing serious, just some yucky stuff oozing out and then the wound healed up over a few days.

Last wednesday, we had another Zone Conference. It was fun and spiritual, and once again, we had a giant sandwich buffet for lunch. The two topics in Zone Conference was about committing investigators to baptism, and chapter 5 in the Preach My Gospel about how to give an investingastor a better understanding of the Book of Mormon.

Last Friday, we finally got special permission from our mission president to cross over yonder into Long Beach, at least, for one member-present lesson appointment. we teamed up with a deaf woman called Fatjema Taijbee, who used to be an ASL missionary and now lives in Long Beach. The person we were teaching is Neelika, who herself came from distant Sri Lanka. She is a deaf mother of two children, who lives with her parents. All of them identify themselves as belonging to the Buddhist faith but are interested in learning about God's restored church. What made all this a very interesting experience is that, since them came from the other side of the world, their sign language is a little different from ours. They even spell the british way, what with all the different gestures associated with signifying a letter. We spent the afternoon explainig into depth who Jesus Christ is, and why he is the central point of the church.

Then......

GENERAL CONFERENCE!

We got a special interpreting feed into our stake center ans many of our deaf members got the opportunity to watch General Conference into American Sign Language. I recognized and knew some of the people who interpreted (Some from the MTC, EFY, and the Provo deaf ward that I used to go to occasionally), especially a woman who sang during the Sunday Morning seisson called Rachel Friedman. Gues what? She's right from our branch!

As usual, the prophets and apostles never cease to amaze and enrich our spirit and knowledge with their inspired talks, especially from Elder Holland (My favorite Apostle) who pratically shook the ground with his remark on the dangers of lust and other sins, their damaging consequences and how we should all throw these destructive things out of our lives.

One thing that added to the amazing General Conference weekend is that three of our investigators showed up at church to listen to the prophet. Evry one of them was touched by his words. Amazing, right? We're SO committing all of them to baptism!

A scary thing happened yesterday just after general conference. At about 3:30, I felt a short but strong tremor. At first, I thought it was just one of these LA tremors since the city is built on a huge fault line, and I thought nothing of it. Only two hous later, at dinner at a member's house, did I learn that there happened yet another massive earthquake, this time in northwestern Mexico, an area called Mexicali, which happened to be just about two hundred miles from where I was. The fact that we were lucky enough to be far away enough to feel only the very edge of the earthquake shocked me. I think it was the closest to an intense natural disaster that I have ever been. Yikes.

The unusual frequency of massive earthquakes ofer the last few months have made many people here really nervous. In fact, on bthe way to the library, we happened to drive past a little parade of doomsayers all proclaiming the inevitable. "The end is near!" "Judgment is upon us!" "Repent now!" and so and so forth. I wanted to take a photo, but I remembered that the missionary handbook told us to not "Take photographs of civil unrest or demonstrations" so out of respect and obedience, I didn't.


-Z

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Adventures in Vermin Metropolis

As hinted by the title of my letter today, we discovered roaches en masse into our kitchen cabinets this morning. Basically, we spent the better part of the morning squirting every bug we could find with window cleaners (instant mess-free roach killer) and now the whole apartment reeks of lemon soap. Whee.

This week was kind of slow. first of all, none of our investigators came to church, including those taught by the other ASL missionaries. We did a lot of (cough) tracting (cough) because a lot of people we tried to taught wasn't home, and some blew off on our appointments. We just had to drop three of our investigatoes because there were zero progress among them. One asked us to not see her anymore (got fed anti-mormon crap by her friends and she believed into these). A bird pooped on our car thrice. We very narrowly escaped a crossfire between two gangs. Actually, I was kidding about the last one.

As of transfers, Elder Lingam and I got Elder Western, and Elder Cordy and Hadlock got Elder Franco. Yipeee! Our new missionaries is getting the better hang of how the ASL program works, which is good. We're also helping them brush up on their ASL skills. Recently, I've talked with President Blackburn that, if everything still goes well, we should divide everyone up into three companionships, and arrange for one to work the Long Beach area, and officially re-establish the ASL program's presence into Long Beach. We really hope so, since there are a LOT of potential investigators and even less-actives in Long Beach. The Long Beach mission does NOT have an official ASL program, which kind of leaves those poor deaf people isolated, which really isn't very fair.

Elder Cordy should transfer out of the program soon, which means we will be able to get our last ASL missionary into the program: My good old companion Elder Van Dam. He really will be a valuable asset to our work, primarily because he knows spanish and ASL both very well. Los Angeles has a LOT of spanish-speaking-only people.

A funny thing happened last sunday. After church, we visited one of our investigatoes, an interesting old waman named Nina Miller. As it turns out, she opted to have dinner with us, though we already had a dinner appointment! After some pizza with Nina, we drove right to dinner (ha ha) with President and Sister Sutton. Afterwards, we were just SUPER full. That didn't end there. Oh no. no. Later tat night, we decided to visit another investigator named Robert, who was holding a little chili party at that time, and insistently offered us a big bowl of his famous 3-alarm chili! By the time we got home, our stomachs were near to bursting, and we basically just planned a bit, prayed, and plodded straight into bed. FYI, 3-alarm chili does NOT mix well with a lot of food. At that, I woke up at 1 AM in the morning, and high-tailed it right for the bathroom, where I proceeded to spend the next 30 minutes on the john, with molten lava coming out of my rear end. If you've heard groaning at that time, that was probably me.When I was fairly confident that the pain was over, I crawled back into bed and passed out right there.

By the way, there was no mail yesterday, because our whole zone did maintenance service at the temple. Sorry, but they brought it up at the last zone meeting so I had no way to let you know about it.

-Z

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Four New Letters from Elder Tritsch

Four new letters for you to enjoy.

Membership activity there, ordinations there, and an eventful week.

What's up, mi amigos?

Three members of the branch (Blanca Huante, and Luis & Diane Ulloa)have been good boys and girls and have been coming to church every week for the last two months, and thus we saw fit to move them up to the status of full-active. Yay! Also, a notoriously less-active woam named Lydia Olivas finally decided to come to sacrament meeting last sunday. Lydia has never been into a church in more than 6 months, and every time we met, she kept making excuses such as busy or sick. Well, now she's been warming up recently and allowed us to teach him as of 4 weeks ago. She tends to be as stubborn as a mule and kept on making excuses for not coming to church. Fortunately, my patience won out and we were surprised to see har at church. We're going to keep on working with Lydia and her husband and ensure that they keeps on coming to church until they returns to full activity.

George Bartley just got ordained to the priesthood and I helped to perform the ordination. Next week, he will be having a interview to get a recommend to enter them temple so he can join us on deaf temple day in about 2 weeks. Also, we plan to have David Turner receive the priesthood next week. I think soon enough the deaf branch will have enough priesthood holders to become a ward! But there is still a long way to go. At least it's in the right direction anyway.

Ever since the LA deaf ward split long ago, the branch have been in a very steady decline with more and more members going inactive. I think all the ASL missionaries that came before us haven't been doing a good job so it's a good thing I came along in time and pushed my finger into the hole before the rest of the pool emptied out.

Evaristo is progressing okay but he is learning things very slowly, but he is really trying. He has yet to grasp the basic concept of praying, since he have never prayed in any way before. As usual, I'm being very patient, and trying to simplify things more and more for him as things go.

We're teaching one more investigator, a 30-something woman named Juana Ramos. Actually, she is in-active, but she has been for SO long (having never set foot in a LDS church since she was about 9, which is a pretty long time) so we were told to consider her as an investigator. She is really interested in re-learning the lessons but it's really difficult for us to contact her since she's almost never home, and she lives in Watts (AKA gang city) so we can't visit her at night for safety reasons. We finally did contact her last week, and to make sure we've set an appointment to be able to contact her again.

Other than that, things are going slowly. Especially last thursday afternoon. Someone committed suicide by jumping in front of a metro train. As a result, the entire system is in a lockdown, which, for most Los-Angelenos, means gridlock traffic because of blocked railroad crossings. It's a good thing I'm deaf, so I can't hear all the honking and cussing that went on. yikes.


-Z

Pizza Pizza


It's been a fun week. Yesterday in sacrament meeting received one of the most turnouts in months. The Branch averaged about 50 to 55 members in attendance, but more than 70 members came, including some less-actives we've taught and have not taught, on account of being unable to contact them at home. Thus, we took the opportunity to talk with al of them and set appointments so we can FINALLY teach them and help them get back to full activity in the church.

Last wednesday, we were asked to help give the Perez family Melchizedek priesthood blessings. the parents and both of their little kids wound up with an nasty bug going around. We blessed the parents first, then their daughter and son. At that time, I had a experience I'll never forget. As we lastly gave their son, Gohan, a blessing, his sister, Beyonce, wanted to join into the blessing and eagerly put her hands on his brother's head. Although she doesn't fully understand the meaning of having an authority to perform blessings, it was really cute.

On Thursday, we had another Zone Conference. It took place up at the Los Angeles California Stake. I'll tell you, that place felt TOTALLY different, like I just walked into a church belonging to a different religion. the floor layout and decor are different than that found in any other LDS meetinghouse, but what really stands out are the stained glass windows. STAINED GLASS windows. It felt strange but awesome at the same time. Anyhoo, I found out that President Blackburn has 3 or so transfer cycles left before he is officially released from duty and a new guy comes in. As of right now, we still have no idea who he is, but we're being patient about it. Overall, Zone Conference was nice. A lot of testimonies here and there, plus a few lessons in gospel principles found in Preach My Gospel, such as setting goals for investigators and Companionship inventory. the two elders who taight the second one did a funny little skit where they were at each other's thorats and wasn't getting along or setting compromises. For lunch, they wheeled in twelve 48-inch submarine sandwiches on special order frrom Subway. if you've seen one there, you'll know it's a LOT of food. Since he loves subway, Elder Hadlock was in hog heaven.

ON Saturday, we gave service at the Millett family's house, where we helped clear the upstairs, toss away piles of clutter, and did a lot of painting. As our "reward" (ha-ha), they baked us a LOT of delicious home-made pizza (picture included). Now >I< am in hog heaven.


We just began teaching Ken Robertson's daughter, Annalee. Ken is the 2nd counselor in our branch and very active, but his wife and daughter is really not (Annalee is 11 and not even baptized (She's scared of water)), which is hard on him. Last Thursday on sports night, Ken and Annalee came, and on the spur of the moment, we went ahead and taughter annalee the first lessons. It's our hope that if we can bring Annalee to regular activity in the church and even bring her to the waters of baptism, Ken's wife will follow. Since Ken has a lot of responsibility, as a leader, we feel it's very important that Ken's family be there to support him. Well, just right now, President Sutton, on our weekly leadership meetings, just assigned us to take the initiative and go tell Ken's wife this: "President Sutton told us that we should go teach you. What time is best for you". That was his exact words. As the week unfolds, we'll do, and see what happens.


I just heard from a member that there was another massive earthquake, this time in Chile, to the tune of 8.8 on the scales. Since missionaries aren't supposed to read newspapers, we have to rely on members to get information on current events. But anyway, another earthquake? How much damage is there? Is the church sending humanitarian aid to Chile ASAP?

Ever since I just heard about the earthquake yesterday, I couldn't stop thinking about something. From my observation, during the past 5 years, disasters have been occuring on a frequency that made several people nervous. From what I know, there have been maleovent hurricanes, tsunamis, typhoons, intense cold storms, earthquakes, and et catera in that short time. Befire, disasters happened only once in a while and usually aren't so severe.

Last night, I recalled and read from the book of Revelations that there will be many disasters and calamities that will precede before the Second Coming. Well, here's what I think: The Second Coming just might be sooner than we thought. At least, that's my insight on the stuff anyway. We are continuing to work diligently and help many people perpare for the fullness of the times and others accept the gospel.


-Z

Month 5?!?

I woke from my bed this morning and I had a NASTY relevation. Come Thursday, I will have entered the fifth month of my mission. I honestly and truthfully quivered at the very thought that all of that time have passed by. ACK. Must work harder! Must work harder!

Yesterday, I had an very interesting argument in church. A new person came into sacrament meeting to listene, and afterwards complained that he did not hear the name Jesus Christ at least several times in that time. "And you call yourselves Christian?", he asked. Funny, because I have the same opposite problem. Before my mission, I chanced upon a evengalist talk on the internet. the words "Jesus Christ" was mentioned so often (at least once or twice per sentence) that I winced. It's as if they say His name without thought or regard to the spiritual and sacred meaning behind His name, and instead use him as some sort of figurehead to press their doctrines and opinions to the public eye. No. We choose to revere His name, by including His mane where it is appropriate. In fact, the scriptures say that the Melchizedek Priesthood is originally called the most high priesthood, or Jesus Christ's Priesthood. Out of want of less repetition, the revelation came to name it the Melchizedek Priesthood, after the most high priest that lived in Abraham's time.

but anyhoo, my week had been wild, up to today. Last saturday, we had our monthly deaf temple day. We've been trying so hard to help our recent convert George Bartley enter the temple for the first time. finally, the night before the temple, George had his temple recommend interview... in which he did not pass, due to his taking up smoking again. Not being able to go to the temple, George took it so hard, that, along with severe problems at home, caused him to also relapse back into drinking. That's not the worst of it all. Somehow, the alcohol conflicted with his medication he was taking, and it wreaked havoc on his body, ultimately landing George into the hospital. We did not know exactly what happened until this morning when Lydia, who is his manager (and yes, one of our less-actives), gave us a phone call. We tried to visit George this morning but we couldn't because they could only allow one person to visit, which caused a problem for us because as missionaries, we must never be separated from our companions, except to go to the bathroom. Basically, that pretty much sucked.

We are intensely praying for George's recovery. When George is released from the hospital, we will proceed to teach George the word of wisdom all over again and President Suttion has asked us to see him as often as possible to make sure that George is still on the right path. We hope that, as a result of this episode, George will be more responsive and be more reluctant to ever return to alcoholism again.


The branch is keeping good in it's size. My only gripe is that many of the members tend to come late to sacrament meeting, so Sutton and we took 15 minutes in class to impress upon the importance of coming on time. Some people we taught did not come, and some came, so it averaged out. David Turner just got ordained to the Aaronic Priesthood, and will be able to help pass the sacrament next week and go to the temple next month or so.

We had a pretty good week, with 22 lessons taught. We pray to raise the bar this week and not buck down until we get at least 25 lessons, icluding some taught with members present.Transfers are comig up soon, and Elder Cordy is due to transfer out of the program. As of yet, we STILL do not know who's coming in. Elder Lingam and I've aked President Blackburn that an extra missionary comes into the program, and that our companionship be a threesome. That way, the new guy will be able to get the better hang of the program and it'll be more effective that way. So far, he's responsive to that, but we'll see what happens.


-Z

About to be a exciting transfer week!

First of all, HUGE news for you guys.

Transfers are this wednesday. All the ASL companions stay together... BUT! Each one will become a threesome! That means our ASL program will now have six missionaries. Goal fulfilled. Actually, I was more or less hoping for three companionships instead of two threesomes but it's still getting there. It's really exciting whern our collective hard work brings around REAL results.

Last sunday was really cool. We had a special Stake Conference where we got to hear from our Mission President, her wife, and Elder Claudio R. M. Costa of the Presidency of the Seventy. It was way great to see him in person again (He spoke at the MTC when I was there once). Afterwards, or branch threw something called an "Un-birthday Social" where there was cake and ice cream and basically a lot of chatting away.

Once again, we hit the bar for lessons taught this week, with 25 lessons. This week, we try for 26! The California Los Angeles Mission has a "Standard of Missionary Excellence" which points out the general goals for a excellent missionary, with lessons taught, how much baptisms, progressing investigators, etc. One of them states that an "Excellent Missionary" teaches AT LEAST 30 lessons a week. Looks like I'm getting around that quota, especially when it is only the early months of my mission.

Last week, I had two split days, one with Elder Hadlock, and another with one of our Zone Leaders, Elder Gardner. He's a awesome missionary, come from a humble town in Alabama, and he learns sign language FAST. In fact, he grasped the basic concept of American Sign Language in only one day. When I explained that ASL relies on visual examples, like gesturing a steering wheel to represent a car, he picked up on it right away. Maybe I should be an ASL teacher as a day job while I pursue my career of being a comedy writer.

Beside that, not much went on. George is continuing to improve as we check on him on a regular basis. We finally contacted two In-actives we've been trying to contact in months. They are Michelle Tambito and Victor Lopez-Mata. Despite serious circumstances which I will not go in detail, Michelle is doing fairly well, and he wants to come back to church. (Just broke up from his controlling, extremely jealous boyfriend who HATES the church. Smile.)

Victor is a very strange case. He believes that a evil spirit possessed his body, and that God is angry with him, and he drifts off topic a lot. Basically, we rebuked him, and explained plainly that Heavenly Father loves ALL his children, and He wants to help Victor, but only if Victor will have faith in Him. For that purpose, we committed him to pray, and to start reading the book of Mormon.


Anyhoo, that's about sums up my week.


-Z








PICTURES! JOY AND HAPPINESS ALL AROUND ONCE AGAIN!

1.David Turner, who is an Recent Convert.

2,3,4. Elder Hadlock and I making a point. (We are trying to help our hearing comapnions improve their signing skills, and them tend to just chat away with their mouths, which just isn't very helpful and productive)

5. Whoops!

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Ebb and Flow...of Water into the Baptismal Font



Well, this week have been nothing short of exciting. Last sunday, the ASL program scored not one, but TWO baptisms: A woman named Myrna and her son Anthony. The other ASL elders have been working with them over the past month and now Myrna and Anthony can now count themselves among God's children. Elder Lingam and I got to help participate by giving a "missionary moment" to the congregation while Elder Hadlock baptized Myrna and Elder Cordy baptized Anthony.

Remember last week I spoke about Evaristo Romero? Well, we just committed him to baptism and he wholeheartedly agreed! Evaristo is such a wonderful guy and will be a great asset to the deaf branch. We're planning to baptize him on February 28th, less than 2 weeks from now. At this rate, there will be many many baptisms in the near future. And there will!

How come? well, Elder Cordy and Elder Hadlock are teaching a pretty great guy named Luis Vergas. He has such a powerful testimony that he wants every one of his deaf friends to come join in with him. Luis gave us a list of correspondences as long as our arm! We've been praying for more people to teach, and Heavenly Father certainly delivered. Right now we're up to our eyebrows.

I want to share yet another experience. Last Thursday, we invited a recent convert, George Bartley, to come teach a lesson with us to a man named Charles Phillips, who is good friends with George. About halfway into the lesson, Charles seemed a bit complacent, but I felt strongly to encourage George to give his testimony. He reluctantly agreed, and gave his testimony.

Now, George is a recent convert. The very idea of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints wasn't among his frame of reference, not even 3 to 4 months ago, and he was baptized only last month. What happened in that moment was nothing short of amazing. George gave a marvelous testimony, stating simply that he *knows* without a doubt that Jesus Christ is his saviour, and knows that he is among those who are in the true church organized by Jesus Christ himself. Elder Lingam and I felt deeply moved, and maybe even Charles also. Long story short, Charles asked us to come back this week to teach him more.

We have many other people to teach within a reachable distance, but unfortunately, less than half of them lives on Long Beach, which lies outside the boundaries of the California Los Angeles Mission.

Mission rules dictate that all missionaries MUST stay within the boundaries, even if there are people to teach outside it. Violation of this rule could cause problems for the missionaries working in the another mission, and in the end, the penalty can mean a early release! Therefore we're being extremely careful to stay within the boundaries, since our mission area is very small. Fortunately, the mission president makes exceptions for ASL and Korean missionaries on a case-by-case basis.

Right now, we're feverently praying for our Mission President's approval to be able to cross the boundary to teach these people. In the short term, we hope to get a kind of "golden ticket" to be able to teach in Long Beach freely. In the long and hopefully more permanent term, we want to work with the Long Beach Mission to extend the ASL language into their mission, so they can accomodate to the specific needs of some of the deaf population there. That could mean more deaf/ASL missionaries to work with the people, and help the work progress more rapidly.

Did you know that out of approximately 55,000 missionaries serving, there are only about 50 to 60 in the ASL program all over the ENTIRE country and in parts of England? Hmph. We'll have to change that.

The field is indeed "white and ready to harvest", even in Southern California. And right now, we're the ones driving the tractor.

-Z

By the way, I have two pictures! Here you go. Enjoy.

-- Elder Tritsch and Elder Tritsch. Aren't we both awesome?
-- Baptism of Myrna and Anthony (from left to right: Elder Lingam, Elder Hadlock, Myrna (daughter below), friend Blanca Huante, Anthony, Elder Cordy, and me.)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

My Vision: A Gathering Place for Deaf Saints

My Vision: A Gathering Place for Deaf Saints

I’ve shared my feelings about my mission so far in several testimony meetings, but now I have been deeply impressed that I should share it along with you.
Before, only of the reasons that I wanted to go on a mission was to be able to meet a lot of deaf people and teach them the gospel. I have now found that priority to be in error. Instead, I have discovered an even bigger purpose for my being in the service of the Lord in Los Angeles.

Deaf and hard-of-hearing people are a unique people in themselves. Because of their situations in life, their lifestyle is what makes them special. Many deaf people grow up with considerable language barriers between themselves and the hearing world, mostly among their own families. (90% of deaf people are born to hearing parents). Perhaps because of that, deaf people tent to lead introverted lives, often not very sociable except with other deaf people – people like them. Some deaf people grew up learning orally (forced to lip read and speak). But even oral poses many challenges in itself. In general, some deaf people have a hard time accepting themselves or feel unsatisfied with their lives because of what makes them different from regular society.

On the other hand, deaf people who are faithful members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gather into ward and branches accustomed specifically for their needs. I’ve been to a few of them now and from my observations, I have noticed that the people there are more outgoing, very sociable and many of them have genuine smile son their faces. I’ve also notices that many deaf members have a special excitement for going to deaf wards and branches, because they can be taught by people like them, and those who understand their needs.

During my time in the MTC and here in Los Angeles, I’ve developed a special understanding and desire for all of the deaf people round me. How great would it be if all deaf people could unite in “so great a cause.” That they can have many good friends and in the grand scheme, be more satisfied with their lives because they have found a purpose for being here on earth.

I want to be able to give many more deaf people that blessing. More than that, I want them to recognize that Jesus Christ loves them not matter their situation or walk in life.

But above all, I think that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ would want that also. Perhaps that is the reason I am here on earth; to help others like me come together and to help them see the blessings that come through the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Over the next two years, Elder Hadlock (the other deaf missionary) and I hope to see the deaf branch become a powerful ward, a real place that deaf people can come to be with others like themselves and to be able to put their isolated lives aside. That will be the fruit that yields from our continued hard work and full obedience to the Lord’s commandments. I testify of it and we intend to set a shining example for all missionaries to come after us.

And so, my family and friends, we have a lot of work to do.

Love,

Elder Tritsch

Silver Lining

Los Angeles has so many apartment complexes and houses with barred windows and doors that it seems that if you can afford to live in a decent looking neighborhood without bars on their houses, you're considered part of the upper class.

Ahem...

This week have been bittersweet for the most part. I'll just go ahead with the bitter and get it over with.

Despite our constant efforts to help Eddie Parker change his life and come back to church, he ultimately decided to apostasize from the church by declaring that he had been baptized into another church. For the last two weeks, after seeing considerable improvement into him, to go the opposite way behind our backs, made absolutely no sense to me. It puts a giant "What the flip?" above my head. (I would make it bigger but there's no font size option here on MyLDSmail.net) Afterwards, I got a little discouraged and prayed about it, then I was inspired to read page 170 of "Preach My Gospel"

I will quote:

"When people choose not to investigate the restored gospel, your work is not wasted. Your consistent efforts in serving and teaching as many people as you can is one way God prepares His children to eventually receive His servants. He often reaches out to His children through you. Even when people do not accept the opportunity to learn the gospel, your service and words are evidence of God’s love for them and may plant seeds that future missionaries and members of the Church will harvest.

When people do not accept the gospel, do not be discouraged. You have raised a warning voice. You have given them a clear choice. Disciples of Christ feel sorrow when people choose not to repent, but they maintain a vision of who they are and what they are doing. They continue to diligently move forward."

I understood more clearly now that in the grand scheme of things, those we teach will either or not count themselves among the Lord's Elect. What really matters right now is to just continue moving forward. Now is not the time for licking wounds. There are hundreds and even thousands of other people who seriously need the guidance of His gospel, especially in a world that is slipping further into apostasy from all that is good, moral, and sensible. We will try to visit Eddie again in a month or two and see how he is doing.

All bitterness aside, this week brought with it a string of promising investigators, especially a man who we've begun teaching named Evaristo Romero. He seemed to accept the teaching very well. We was able to go to church with him last sunday, and Evaristo desired to come to church again next week! He is a humble person and has kept all his committments to read the scriptures and pray. This week, we will teach him more lessons and maybe even discuss baptism. Although Evaristo doesn't have a car, he doesn't mind riding the bus since he lives near the Metro bus/train system.

We've received "intelligence reports" that there is a possible deaf community in the town of Carson, near a large LDS meetinghouse there. We are planning to *cough* tract *cough* this week, if the rumors proves true, we just might have a gold mine of possible investigators. How awesome will that be?

Last saturday, we all got to go to the temple with the deaf branch. They have a monthly temple excursion and we were invited to attend, with the mission president's approval. It was my first time seeing ASL versions of the temple ordinances being performed. Although I will not disclose for the sake of temple sacredness, it was a really interesting experience. Afterwards, all of us ASL missionaries went to dinner at a really delicious hawaiian-themed burger restaurant near the temple.

This Thursday will mark the start of my 4th month into the mission. In other words, 1/8 of my mission is over. Hmm. I could have sworn it didn't feel like that long. Yikes. There's just SO MUCH TO DO.


-Z

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

No Culture is Entirely Righteous

No Culture is Entirely Righteous
By Zack Tritsch

As the world has known for millennia, every nation, people, and culture has a dark side to their way of life; terrorists, religious extremists, criminals, dictators, tyrants and oppressors that reign with blood and terror. Today, I learned that even deaf culture has its own demons.

In class (MTC), we were shown a video on the computer about two deaf parents who gave birth to a healthy son, but they were dismayed to learn that their son was hearing. The parents had hoped to have a deaf child and start a generation of deafness in the family. For four years, they were disgusted by the fact that their child could hear, and wished/prayed that one day their son’s hearing would degenerate and become deaf like his parents. Finally, one night, the father decided to sit down with his wife and talk about his feelings. To his surprise, she had the same feelings, and they both decided to do something about their son.

This is when it starts to get very very wrong.)

The man called the local doctors about deafening his son. Not surprisingly, such a procedure is strictly illegal in the United States and many places, but one doctor knew a contact in Brazil who could do the procedure well within the legal boundaries of their government. The man said, “fine, give me his number”.
Within a week, everything was set. The ecstatic parents informed their son that he would be deaf soon. However, the boy resisted the idea that he would lose his hearing.

“But Daddy, what about my music?”

“It will be all right. You will not hear music, but you will still feel it.”

“But Daddy, what about my favorite Saturday morning cartoons?”

“It will be all right. They will have closed captioning.”

“But Daddy, what about my friends?”

“You can make new friends, or your friends will have to learn to use sign language.”

Plaintiff pleading was to no avail. The parents would go ahead with the surgery anyway. They were informed that the operation would cost roughly $150,000. You’d think that would deter them from doing such an action, but stubbornness, selfishness and pride won out. They all flew to Brazil. The deed was done. The child had his hearing unwillingly taken away from him. Finally, perhaps as a insult to injury, the parents suggested that their son and they all go to a beach to celebrate.

If anything, this was deaf pride in its most extreme form. The deaf parents callously gave little regard to their son’s future and natural development. The only thing they cared about was that their son has become deaf like his parents. Then, perhaps the most disturbing of all, they earnestly believe that their son becoming deaf (and paying $150,000 to do so) was a God given miracle. Obviously their choices and actions, including the choice to tell the whole story on YouTube, inevitably brought public scrutiny and the attention of social workers across the country.

God gave all of the trials and challenges in this life; that we may learn to overcome the obstacles which He had placed for us, and be able to improve ourselves and those around us. By making their child become deaf, they defeated the purpose of God’s plan for all of us.

And then something hit me: limitations.

Because the parents took away their son’s hearing, they not only took an inherent ability away from him, they took away a lot of opportunities and possibilities that came with this natural development. For all intents and purposes, deafness is not something you give to someone, but rather what results from what you take away. A true parent should love their child no matter what and teach them to embrace all opportunities to their way of life, statures, and already existing limitations. Parents should adapt to their child instead of forcing the child to adapt to their parents. The deaf mother and father did jus the exact opposite, out of selfish concern for only themselves.

In the grand scheme of things, people like them will be held accountable before God for their actions (A Proclamation to the World). Please understand that I don’t hold this insight against all of deaf culture, but I believe it is wrong for us to forcibly assimilate people into our culture, especially when it concerns innocent children.

If I have hearing children in the near future, I would teach that child to embrace hearing culture. I would give my child music. I would encourage him/her to have all kinds of friends. I would help my child discover all the opportunities in life.
I would provide what’s best for my child.
I would ensure my child’s utmost happiness.
I would help my child succeed.
And most above all, I would do it with all the love in my heart – and do you know why?

Because it is the right thing to do.

--Z

Pictures of Elder Tritsch in Action






These were taken by members of the Torrance 4th Branch for the Deaf and posted on Facebook. COOL!

Deaf people are everywhere and nowhere at the same time

Hello all!

My week has been wonderful for the most part. Why? We found dozens of new people to teach, most of them actually coming from the street. Even better, ALL of them were interested into learning more about the gospel. I think I can safely say that the Lord knows that I choose to take my mission seriously and decided to help out by placing deaf people into our paths. Usually, I find deaf people in public only once in a blue moon.

Last Tuesday, one semi-active family brought their friend named Sim for us to teach. Nice lady; asked a lot of questions. Friday, we found a woman named Vicki, who is hard of hearing but can sign. On Saturday, we most certainly hit the jackpot. What is it? A car full of deaf/signing people! We were biking from appointment to appointment to save car miles and gas.

The cool thing about people like me is that I have 180* vision and eyes in the back of my head. (it's near impossible for people to sneak up on me. Ask my brother, he'll confirm that fact!) We were biking from appointment to appointment to save car miles and gas. As we were biking home, I caught one woman moving her hands out of the very corner of my eye. I shouted to my companion to stop, and we looked back. Sure enough, it was sign language. Two deaf women introduced us as April and Hope. I think there's more of them because a little boy who was with them signed also. We got their cell numbers and invited them to church so we'll see what happens.

Eddie Parker is continuing to improve and Branch President Sutton says he will be able to interview for entering the temple on March. Sadly, we found out that David Turner has a slight Word of Wisdom issue (drinking coffee), so we are continuing to work with him, and President Sutton has decided to delay his priesthood/temple interviews until March, if David can improve and put aside his coffee habits.

The branch is growing steadily, activity-wise. With two companions working on two different fronts of the Los Angeles area, it's going well. All of us hope to be able to add one more companionship to the lines so the work can progress more rapidly. After all, we want a bona-fide Deaf ward, don't we?

Oh! this week, we just committed a young man named Marcial Martinez to baptism. He want to be baptized more than ever. The missionaries has been working with him in the past and he has a testimony of the gospel, but he is still afraid his mother will object, since she is a devout catholic. She isn't against the church though, so we told Marcial to be brave and sit down with his mom and really share his feelings to his mom because I know she'll understand. Basically, something to the extent of "Suck it up.". We'll see what happens in the next few days.

We don't know what's up with Nancy though. She's been skipping church lately and it's been hard for us to contact her. We think she's just nervous so we're just being patient with her.

Anyway, that's pretty much the highlights of my week.

FUN FACTS

1. Ever since arriving in Los Angeles almost three weeks ago, I've lost 8 pounds. So far, that makes a grand total of zero pounds gained on my entire mission. Goodbye, MTC food, and never again! Hello, future six-pack abs!

2. While thinking randomly, I discovered that if you look at my last name like an anagram, TRITSCH becomes

T(he) CHRIST

cool huh?

3. In big cities, you tend to meet some of the strangest people you'll ever see in your entire life (in a good way, mind you all!). one time, we saw there was a man dressed in woman clothes on the bus, and another time, we saw there was a person that you ABSOLUTELY can't tell if is a man or a woman.

Also bald chicks.

------------------------------

Bye for now


-Z