Sunday, December 4, 2011

Thanksgiving week, one month mark

From Jessica's Nov 28th letter.

"Mkay, so this week was definitely a rollercoaster week. On Monday night, we had what felt like unreal success. When I wrote you on Monday morning, we had one investigator with a baptismal date. When I went to bed on Monday night, we had FIVE investigators with baptismal dates. Insane! Inviting people to be baptized is a really special thing. I've never really had experiences quite like it. It's amazing to feel the Spirit of the Lord backing your words up when you invite someone to follow the example of Jesus Christ by being baptized by someone who holds the priesthood authority of God. We had four investigators accept baptismal dates in one night. And on P-day!

"One of them was a lady who we were teaching for the first time.... She very readily accepted baptism, even when we told her about the word of wisdom. She said, "I drink coffee, but I'll just have to start drinking hot chocolate instead." Haha :D Unfortunately, yesterday morning, when we called this lady to see if she was coming to church, she "dropped" us. It was super super super sad. She was prepared, but she said that she can't talk to us anymore because she can't hurt her family by changing religions. Hopefully we will get to talk to her again and address some of those concerns, but for now she's made it pretty clear that she doesn't want to talk with us anymore. Muy triste, but hopefully there's a seed that's been planted there.

"The other three that accepted baptismal dates are a family--[a mother](20) and her husband..., and [the mother's] little brother, (14). They've been invited to be baptized before, but on Monday night they accepted. They're hopefully on track to be baptized on January 1st. We're nervous because they've all of a sudden been a lot less receptive to our efforts to teach them, so we're praying really hard that they'll want to keep moving forward. I'm noticing that Satan works really hard on people who are preparing to be baptized. So I'll keep you posted on them :)

"Tuesday was a great day as well. We got to go to the temple! The Oakland temple is definitely very unique. It's very Polynesian in design. It has teeny tiny cramped staircases, but the ordinance rooms are ENORMOUS. Someone called it a megaplex, and that's a fitting description. It was really nice to go to the temple. I'm really lucky to have arrived here in time for temple week. After the temple we went to the mission office for more new missionary training. We focused on the importance of the doctrine of Christ. My mission president is really a man of God. He's not afraid to tell us where we need to improve in order to be more effective missionaries.

"On Wednesday we had a crazy day. We had a district meeting, which took up most of the beginning of the afternoon, and then Sister Osborn and I had to run to the library to write letters to President Wade. We were stressing out because we were supposed to write them on Tuesday but because of the temple and training we didn't have time. But it worked out great, because at the library, this man came up to us and said, "I'm a brother! I'm a brother!" Turns out he's a member of the church and has been attending different wards in the area because he couldn't find out where the Spanish branch in this area meets. But GUESS WHAT, he totally lives in our area! ... he was baptized about a year and a half ago. We gave him the details for our ward's meeting times and he came on Sunday! It wasn't by chance that we were there on Wednesday writing letters at the same time he was there. I can tell already that he's going to be an asset to the ward. The ward here struggles sometimes because there are not very many men who are active members, and the majority of the ward is made up of very recently baptized members.

"Thursday--Thanksgiving! Oh mannnnnn. What a day. We had three Thanksgiving dinners. Whew! Our first dinner was with the senior missionary couple in our ward. It was straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting--very traditional American turkey-n-stuffing type dinner. Our second dinner was with the Betances family in our ward, and it was "mixed"--mashed potatoes and such with Mexican side dishes and desserts. And then our last dinner--which I wish I could have enjoyed more--was straight up MEXICAN. Loved it! We had this really neat garbanzo bean soup, and tostadas, and beans, and this mango smoothie thing that rocked my world. Unfortunately, by this time, I was literally about to cry because I was so full. And one of the elders that was eating with us WAS crying because he was so full (and because he put too much chili in his soup, haha). The ward members here are fantastic and they take very, very good care of us missionaries. The one thing I missed out on here was pie though. It sounds like you all had a pie party! I was thinking about pie when I was eating Mexican fruit salad. :)

"Other stories from this week--Sister Osborn and I get hit on all the time, it seems. This week a drunk man kept asking us for our phone number. It was pretty funny. We gave him the number for the Oakland Temple Visitor's Center instead. :) Then we had a drunk guy try and get into a Bible battle with us about the words of Paul that say women shouldn't speak in church. A classic. And for the first time, someone literally slammed their door at us! It was kind of cool--like a rite of passage. People here are actually very, very nice, and they're almost never rude when we knock on their door.

"This week it's been really hard to find people to teach, and we feel bad because we feel like we're wasting time when our appointments cancel on us. But like Derek said, you just have to embrace it, give thanks for the opportunity to follow the Spirit and try something new, and then be sensitive enough to the Spirit to know where you're supposed to be when everyone cancels on you. It's a good lesson for me to learn--humility, and reliance on the direction of the Spirit.

"Big miracle this Sunday--we had a brand new investigator unexpectedly show up at church on Sunday. We were discouraged because that morning nobody came to church except our faithful [investigator]. Then, about 30 minutes into sacrament meeting, [a siter] and her two sons showed up for church! It was great! Rachel, you would love this womaan's youngest son. He's 4, his name is Eric, and he is the CUTEST child on the planet! He loved Primary, which is great, because we can tell that the focus on families in the gospel will be key for this brand new investigator and her kids. Such a miracle that she came to church!

"Other highlights of the week--Every day. EVERY. DAY. people think I'm Hispanic. And these are all Hispanic people! Their jaws literally drop when I tell them I'm half Taiwanese! It's really hilarious. Sis. Osborn says it's a blessing though, because people will be more willing to talk to me :D Um, also, our apartment has hormigas (ANTS). We've been battling them this week though, so I think we're good to go. Our house smelled like Raid for a while, but I think it's under control now"

"...I'm unfortunately out of time already. Man, this hour on the computer is the fastest hour of the week! I love you all!"

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