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.