Wednesday, we spent the whole day doing service. In the morning, we went over to a member's house to help out in their backyard. We dug up some busted sprinkler pipes, and put up a short fence to keep their dog out of their garden. Then, we went to the stake center to help set up for a pageant that the stake is putting on- the 10 virgins. Apparently, it's going to be a huge production. The stage setup was designed and (largely) put together by a Disneyland set manager, using massive 10 foot tall hand-painted panels that we had been given by another stake. The panels showed an impressively painted background of a city and garden from around this time, and had been painted by a member for a different pageant from another stake. They were painted on big slabs of plywood, so we screwed them on to 2x4 frames and started setting them up. The configuration that we put them in has a narrow hall in the back, and rooms on either side that are largely open to view. They look amazing with the painted backgrounds! Then, we got frozen yogurt as a reward for helping.
The next day, we did just as much service, at the same places. We went to the same member's house, and finished up replacing the sprinkler pipes and reburied them, before starting to sand her kitchen that she wants to repaint. That took until dinner again, then we went back to the stake center to finish setting up the pageant. We finished putting up all the frames and securing everything down, so the stage looks just like it will when the pageant is put on. It looks shockingly awesome! We got more frozen yogurt after. That's the weird thing about members feeding you- they all decide what to cook based on the weather or something, because meals come in streaks, like getting Mexican food for a week straight. Not that I mind, but I wouldn't have guessed it.
On Friday, we went back to the same member's house and finished sanding her kitchen. She wanted to get us lunch, and we weren't about to argue. We walked her dog while she was off getting it, and then had a very early dinner. It was at a really good Hawaiian barbecue restaurant. After that, we just cleaned the apartment. Not a super exciting day.
Saturday was when all the real thrills happened. We went over to the Wade's house. I talked about it two weeks back, but here's the gist of that- really old abandoned house that needs to be refinished and have loads of stuff replaced. Last time, we cleaned up a lot of wreckage around there. That's how we started, but by the end, we got to the fun bit- tearing down the drywall. Do you know the fastest way to look for studs? A double-handed sledgehammer. I used one of those to pound holes in the wall in a line, then a huge crowbar to pry out large chunks of drywall. The only problem is that once you are done wreaking havoc on the bits that aren't directly attached to the frames, you have to remove the bits attached to the frames. That is super hard work. The method I used was simply beating it to death with the sledgehammer, then getting the point of the crowbar under it to scrape off the remnants. It was hot, too, in an unventilated room while wearing heavy painter's masks to avoid white lung disease from all the plaster in the air. It was so totally worth it, though. Unfortunately, the project came to an abrupt end for the day when one of the guys working there, who was 64 years old and tearing down a wall, hung from a beam to try and pull it down, and succeeded too well. He hit his head pretty hard, and got taken to the hospital for stitches. After the project was done for the day, we mostly just rested from all the work there, and gave some other missionaries a ride to a bike shop for repairs. One of the women working there told us how desperate she was for religion in her life, and told us her whole life story, including all her mistakes, right in the middle of the shop. She was very open.
Sunday was pretty tame. We went to church in the morning, and arranged a few meetings with some investigators who came to church, which was awesome. The lesson we taught in Gospel Principles class was on Faith in Jesus Christ, which for missionaries comes pretty naturally after talking about it with every investigator who'll sit still for the first lesson. After church, there was a meeting for all the new ward missionaries and us at the ward mission leader's house, Brother Grant. He talked to us about our need to formulate a plan to find people, and a little about what we should be doing. We have a whole bunch of really good ward missionaries, so this should work out pretty well. Right after that came dinner, where we talked a lot about education and careers. Right after that came Persian, where we talked yet more about the same sort of thing. All the missionaries I have talked to have said that going on a mission has made them second-guess their plans for the future, but so far I've just had mine get more and more clear. That's probably more because I'm almost never thinking about them than anything else, but I'll take that over uncertainty. Elder Wilding shared an insight that spooked me a bit: after our missions, while we are in college or have jobs, we'll be working 5 days a week, and spending another at church. The last day will be our only leisure day, and we'll still have families to juggle then. That means that if we don't enjoy what we do at work, we won't have much, if any, time to do what we like. That's a powerful incentive to get a job you really, really like.