Thursday, April 2, 2015

2 April 2015

This feels like the longest week on record, largely because p day got moved up to Thursday. Tuesday, we did loads of tracting, because the 5 visits we planned all fell through. On the other hand, it was the most successful tracting day that we've ever had; we taught 3 lessons, and found 2 people who said that we could come back to teach them. That is almost unheard of in this area! We were passed a good-looking referral a while back, but when we knocked on their door, no one answered, so we called and tried to set something up, but just left a message. We met a very interesting Jehovah's Witness who was "grounding" when we met him. We tried to convert each other for an entertaining few minutes, but ended up leaving each other some literature and going our separate ways. Now, our car has a Jehovah's Witness booklet, a Quran, and about 50 Books of Mormon in it. Jehovah's Witnesses believe some interesting things- for example, they refuse blood transfusions. Also while tracting, we found a teen walking down the street wearing a hoodie- it was 80 out. We talked to him and left a card.

Wednesday, we tried again to visit Orlando, the most welcoming guy we've ever met. We found him in the first 2 weeks I've been out, but haven't talked to him since because he's either never home or, in this case, was sleeping and his wife answered the door. After that, we went to volunteer at another blood drive. Now, last time was the polar opposite of this one. Then, we were inside a nice, air-conditioned building, and spent the whole time talking with people and sharing stories, basically having lots of fun and eating the donors' snacks. This time, the blood drive was in a truck. The table we were at was right in front of the exhaust on a 90 degree day. We had a nice canopy cover, but the sun gradually crept closer and closer, so we had to scoot the table back three times before our shift was up. Worse, we talked to about 2 people, because all the donating and recovering was done inside the truck. Worse, they kept all the snacks out of reach inside the truck! After we were done there, we went out to visit loads of families. All the visits we had set up fell through, and no one was home wherever we went. After a while of that, we went out to visit an eternal investigator, sort of. She's an older lady who is very nice (she tried to give us a monopoly set), and loves having us over. Unfortunately, she's single, and so we can't come in, and we've never actually managed to teach her a whole lesson at once because she LOVES to talk. We had to turn her down on the monopoly set, too, but it was a nice interlude in that day. While tracting, we met a deist who called us servants of Satan, and talked about how the fluoride in the water was calcifying our pineal glands, and how the world was run by the power of the devil.  

Thursday was much more fun. We had district meeting, and then washed our car. One elder in our district, Elder Christiansen, is widely acknowledged to be the king of car washes. We spent a half hour out behind the church doing that, then picked up my new orthotics. They feel a little different, but it's pretty nice not to be rolling my feet inward so much whenever I walk. Later, we tried to visit more people, but no one was home. We spent a lot of time tracting, and found another interesting character: he was dressed to the nines, was carrying a shoulder bag, and 30 seconds after we knocked, threw the door open and asked, "Do you believe in the ministry of all Christians?" When he got the expected blank stares and we asked him what he meant, he just repeated himself. He did it about three times before Elder Wilding just started testifying about what we believe. Then, the guy (who never explained what he meant) said, "Well, if you don't believe in the ministry of all Christians, I have nothing more to say to you." Then he shut the door, leaving us nonplussed. 

Friday, we had weekly planning. After that, we visited another eternal investigator, and had the most candid conversation I've ever heard. She very clearly explained to us that she thought all religions were right and that religion was not her biggest priority right then. She spent much more time talking about her new car and its transmission problems. However, she said that we could come back anytime, so I'm counting that as a partial victory. Later, while tracting, we knocked on one particular door. There, the guy who answered left the screen door closed as we talked, so we couldn't even tell what he looked like. Then, while talking to him, he decided he was finished talking to us in the middle of a sentence and just closed the door. We also went down to the mission office to drop off our car report, and I got the most unexpected news of my mission. Elder Wilding was dropping off the car report while I hung out in the office, and Sister Jameson, the mission secretary,  turned to me and asked me to grab Elder Wilding because she had something to tell me. Visions of visas to India danced before my eyes as I rushed out to grab Elder Wilding. When we were both in front of Sister Jameson, she first destroyed my hopes about the visa, then, while I sweated, wondering if I was in trouble, she explained that one of my Grandmas and a great grandmother were going to be taking me out to lunch in a week. Oh, and somehow, she cleared it with the mission president. I think that the Elders in the next room over could hear my jaw hitting the floor. In the mission handbook that President Taggart quotes as a matter of scripture, it very clearly states that we can't have visits from our families. I have absolutely no idea how she did it, but I am NOT complaining. Later, we had absolutely nothing planned for that night, so we tracted. At 8 at night. What's worse, we were in the richest part of the area, so all the houses looked like they were lifted straight from a horror movie. Some of them were gigantic, too. You have not seen big houses until you go to California. They had their own grounds and gatehouses! One of them was two towers, a portcullis, and a moat away from being a castle. It was HUGE!

Saturday, we had a fun service project. Someone built a Mexican-style villa in the middle of an orange plantation in 1909, but since then the plantation got plowed under, and the house was abandoned. Fortunately for the new owners, the house had been lived in since (until 2000), and so had electricity and modern plumbing. Unfortunately, 15 years of neglect wrecked the sheetrock. A family in the ward had bought it, and was restoring it to live in it. They had got a 
30x8x10 dumpster, and we filled it to overflowing with all the sheetrock, loose wood, and various debris we tore out of there. What was even more fun was the dozen 90 pound bags of plaster leaned up against a wall that we had to carry 100 feet to the dumpster. What was yet more fun than that was filling trash cans (the big ones that get picked up by the garbage trucks) full of junk, dragging them over to the dumpster, then hefting them overhead to clear the side of the dumpster, then dumping them out and repeating. After 4 hours of work like that, we were finally finished. On the way home to clean up, because we were covered in dust, we got a call from a ward member who needed us to move a couch for them. After that, we cleaned ourselves up and went out tracting. 

Sunday started out super early because we had ward council before 9:00 church. After teaching our lesson there, we tried to meet up with some more families. Later, we had dinner with a Disney security manager. He definitely had some interesting stories. Apparently, Disney has a big problem with people being drunk and disorderly. He also got to do escorts for celebrities, like Johnny Depp right after Pirates of the Caribbean 1 came out, and Michael Jackson. With Michael Jackson, he said they only got about 100 feet down Main Street before the 20 security people they had there had to circle him and link arms to keep off the crowds, and retreat to take him through the back passages. We went to the Christiansens' again for Persian study, and had a very interesting discussion. I mean, VERY interesting. As in, one of the highlights of it was me deciding that I would name a pet skunk Balofasale Gomoshtan, which is Persian for "to immediately have guests." One of the Sisters who comes there too had a birthday, so Sister Christiansen had made strawberry cake, a kind that she had never had before. 

Monday wasn't P-day, so the week felt really long. We started it off by helping a nonmember move to a different apartment in the same complex. That was mostly easy, except for the enormous fridge that we had to get down a flight of stairs. After that, we had to go shopping because we were out of food, then tried to visit a bunch more families. We had another very interesting dinner, where we talked about how much fun you could have on a trampoline, and swapped stories about funny things that had happened on them. The family was all girls, so they had invited a nonmember friend to sit in. He was deprived of some of life's most essential experiences, like root beer. He said that he had never had it before, and when we got him one, he took one sip, and said that it tasted like breath mints. That night, I tried cutting my own hair for the first time. I made a rookie mistake there- I like short hair, so I decided that a 3/8 would be a good place to start. So until my hair grows out, I'll be sporting a nice close cut. 

Tuesday was just plain exciting. In the morning, we helped another family move out, and I learned that one of the missionaries in our district, Elder Christiansen, is amazing at U-haul tetris. Then, we had loads of free time again, so we went out tracting. We met quite a few REALLY interesting people. The first was an Asian named Charles, who was an evangelical Christian, who lived up to the evangelical part of his belief. I'm not sure he was a good one though, because he spent the whole time picking on our beliefs, so we still have no idea what he believes, except that he told us that he didn't feel that prayer was necessary because all truth can be found in the bible. Then, we found the best investigator ever. See, when tracting, it's just a fact of life that you won't find anyone serious. Elder Wilding has knocked on a few thousand doors, and never found anyone serious. Then, I came along, and one of our tracting finds is attending church, and then we found this new guy. Basically, we knocked on his door, and he told us he was ex catholic, which is what we hear easily half of the time. But, when we asked him what he was looking for in a religion, he told us he was looking for something that felt right, and that he had investigated several other churches but none of them had that. We talked for a while, and it was going just like a role play. This was the tracting equivalent of winning the lottery twice, with one ticket. To help you understand exactly how awesome he was, he gave us his business card and requested that we send him reminder emails about the appointment he set up 3 days later. Then, we gave him a Book of Mormon, and he said he'd read loads, because he was a big reader. To end, we said a prayer with him on the doorstep, and as we were leaving, he came running out and asked if his daughter could sit in on the lesson. This is the tracting equivalent of a 50,000 carat diamond falling out of the sky to land at your feet. 

Wednesday was fairly uneventful, because we spent the whole day scouring out the area book. We went from 100 potentials, down to 20. 

Today, the reason that we had p day right now was a temple trip. We went down to Newport Beach for a 7 o clock session, which meant getting up at 5. It was still totally worth it, though.

A few miscellaneous things that I've forgotten to include in other emails:
A week back, we were at b-dubs, and as we were leaving, we had to cross the street to get to where we were parked at. As we were crossing, a redneck in an oversized Ford truck pulled up next to us and yelled, "You Mormons jaywalking!" Then, to look super cool, he revved the engine and took off- right into the bumper of the Corolla in front of him. He totalled its back end, leaving glass everywhere. He showed us!
I've heard loads of stories about "apos" (really disobedient, short for apostasy) missionaries who go out and do stuff like go to nightclubs, but the one that I heard that takes the cake is where one missionary got a TV and an Xbox, and spent his time playing it. However, he didn't want to look apos, so he'd make up investigators to talk about. On the corner of his TV, one pixel would flicker, and so he actually went to the ward council and talked about this new investigator he'd found, Jerry Pixel, who'd be on and off about religion. I'm not sure whether or not it's true, but it definitely jives with everything else I've heard about him. 
While visiting with a super old member (she served her mission right after WWII), we were discussing mission slang, and she told us that "trunky" (homesick) and "green" (new) were still commonly used in 1940! You never think...

The craziest thing I've heard all mission: one of the elders in my zone, Elder Nesom, is from Edmunton, Canada. One of the elders in my MTC district was the one and only Australian Elder Pollard. Elder Nesom was talking after district meeting about how his family got a new Australian elder in their ward. I'm going to be emailing Elder Pollard about that.

Also, when I first got out on my mission, I thought that I'd be cooking a bunch every day. Three days out of the MTC, I thought I'd just be eating pop-tarts and McDonald's. My first two weeks, I cooked next to nothing and ate out a bunch. Now, I haven't bought food at a restaurant in a few weeks, and I'm starting to cook real food. However, sugary cereals are starting to lose their charm. Any way you could send a few muffin recipes, especially the pumpkin chocolate chip one? Thanks!

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