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.
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.
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.
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.
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)