Sunday, 16 February 2014

Dear Family,
February 3
This week we had zone conference and it was really great and there were a lot of things to learn. It mostly focused on improving teaching, which is a big focus for me right now. The next day we met with Fred, a referral, he is a Philippine and we had a good lesson with him. He promised that he would come to church the next week. He is Catholic and goes on his church on Sunday, has us teaching him on Wednesdays and he has the Jehovah’s Witnesses on Fridays. (He likes learning about religions.) We will keep meeting with him to see how he progresses. We also had exchanges and we met a lot of cool people. One person that we met was Mario, a mailman. He is ready for the gospel and is being prepared; he lives down in the valley so we hope the missionaries find him down there. He was telling us that the next big earthquake is coming because there are some signs happening like weird weather (80’s one day, rain and 60’s next, then 65 which dropped to 42 and 50 the next day), birds acting unusual (one day there were a lot of crows and then the next day nothing). He said that these signs were also present in the last bad earthquake in 1994 which he experienced; we’ll see if he is onto something.
We picked up two new investigators – the VanDeventer family and a couple named Cory and Karla. They are amazing and they seem so prepared for the gospel. So in all, we got four new investigators right now which is great. It’s nice to have people to teach.
We also went back to see Zaher this week (knife situation last week) but we had a member with us so we weren’t alone with him and the grandkids. His situation just keeps getting more confusing; I have no idea what to think so we’ll just see what happens.

February 10

This week wasn’t super busy, but we still had some good things happen. First we got to meet with Jessica, a less active since she was a teenager, and she has really wanted to read the Book of Mormon all the way through and in 2 weeks she has made good progress. She and her husband, a nonmember, even came to church, partly because we were singing in church. We sang ‘This is the Christ’ and it went really well. Then we went to the VanDeventer family with their home teachers and it went well. They want to get back into the church so badly, but a lot keeps happening in their life that holds them back sometimes.
We had more less active lessons this week, either with members or nonmembers in the family. One couple that we taught was Cory and Karla. Cory set a baptism date for March 15th, but he didn’t make it to church so we will have to push it back a bit. This was a little disappointing because he is so ready to be baptized; they have even been to the temple’s visitor center at least twice. He just needs to come to church.
Last fast Sunday our mission president asked all missionaries to include the California drought in their fast. This was a state-wide fast; the drought is much worse than expected. Later we did get some rain that brought some much needed moisture.

Kirstin Reese

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Kirstin’s letters from January:
January 14
I tried ribs two nights in a row and they are not my favorite and they are really annoying to try and eat; but at least I tried it. Last Monday we played sand volleyball which is my favorite and of course I had to dive – just a small bruise on my shin. The next day about 3 hours of plans and back-up plans fell through in about 20 minutes so we decided to walk a bike path to see if we could meet people. We then went to an appointment and got 2 new investigators: Maria and James. James goes to his own church, but Maria is looking for a church and she told us that she loves learning about our religion. Right now we have about 7 investigators but some of them are not progressing and I want to drop them (at least short term); the problem is they have been taught by missionaries for about 2 years so maybe they need a break and when they are ready to learn again missionaries can pick them up again.
We have found some really good potential investigators going to a member’s home and asking them for neighbors that we can visit and then have them pray for us to see success while we work in their area for an hour. Then we go back to the member and tell them everything that happened during that hour. We have found a lot of potentials from this, it’s been really cool.
Well the weather is beginning to warm up a little during the day but it is still cold at night. This week we had a language study for all the visa waiters in our zone which also included my companion. Our zone leader speaks Portuguese so he could help the missionaries waiting for their visas practice their language. I and another elder just sat there because we couldn’t participate so I just read my scriptures. Yesterday we went bowling and signed transfer journals and we also took a lot of pictures since next week. I and my companion are staying put for now.

January 20

This past week was pretty slow and it was a rough week because we had a ton of rejections and all but 1 or 2 of our plans for the whole week fell through. That’s missionary work for you! It was kind of ironic because at our district meeting on Tuesday the topic was rejection and dropping people, so that is what we saw this whole week. (It really wasn’t ironic, the Lord was just preparing us for this hard week that we had.) There were a few good things that happened: Salena has been an investigator forever and we met with her and we figured out what she needs. She told us of her son’s conversion (is now less active), as well as her religious background – she is not getting baptized anytime soon since she feels a need to respect her mother’s choice of religion – Catholicism. She did tells that she knows that the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith are true. Her family is stopping her for now.
The other good thing that happened is we were able to finally meet with a referral – Jessica and Angelo. Jessica is a long-term less active (many years) and she has taken a whole new path and her husband, Angelo, was raised Catholic but doesn’t really practice. Jessica has decided that she is looking for the truth and has decided to read the Book of Mormon and Angelo is supporting her and reading it too. It is going to be a slow process in bringing her back to gospel. Angelo is open-minded and seems ready to receive the gospel. We shall see.
We had stake conference this week and it was all about missionary work. It was broadcast from Salt Lake City to Southern California. Speakers were Elder Arnold (of the 70), Sister Linda Burton (RS pres), Elder Anderson (of the 12), and President Eyring. It was great the talks were mostly on missionary work and it was amazing and definitely needed after this difficult week and it helped get us more motivated.

January 27

This week has been a little different and I’ll start out with the bigger news/lesson. Missionaries are thrown into countless different situations and you have to learn fast. I thought about the experience and thought about how fast you learn things when you are on a mission. I know that the Lord protects His missionaries, and I also know that Satan is doing all he can to stop this work and win the fight that is still raging. So my experience came from a visit to a member who has been in the area 4 months and didn’t know where the church was and he is a recent convert of 2 years. His name is Zaher and he is Egyptian (in his 60s/70s) but has been in America for 15 years. While we were visiting with him, his grandkids came out and started playing around, Rolffe (4 yrs) and Roselle (3yrs). Roselle was just drawing pictures for us and Rolffe was playing with a toy car. Rolffe has a temper and got mad at something Zaher said so he pulled his walker away from him and went back to play. Rolffe then want to have a ring from my finger so that he could toss it around, but I didn’t want to lose it and then he tried to pull it off but he couldn’t. So he said that he was going to cut it off. I and my companion thought he meant a butter knife since he was only 4 but he went into the kitchen and came back with a chopping knife. At that point all conversation was dropped and we carefully watched Rolffe. Zaher told him to put it away and was ignored. Rolffe forgot that he was trying to cut off my ring and began swinging the knife around and came close to everyone with the blade which was really scary. Then he put that knife away and got a butcher knife; I could feel my heart drop as well as everyone else’s. Conversation was over and it felt like it was survival of the fittest match. He was waving that around and everyone was watching every move. It literally felt like we were being threatened with knives, just by a 4-year old and I feel like that is the scariest part because a 4-year old doesn’t understand the dangers and consequences. So as Rolffe was going back to the kitchen we told Zaher we had to get going to our ‘next appointment.’ We shook hands and headed for the door and Rolffe came out (without a knife) and tried to stop us from leaving by leaning on the door. I then saw something in his eyes that wasn’t there before – Rolffe has followed the example of his parents (non-members) so he still has his innocence but you can see the effect of unrighteous habits that he has developed. So we finally got the door opened and slipped out so nothing else would happen. I hope I never have to go back there when the grandkids are there or at least send the elders. This all happened between 1-2pm on Saturday. Anyways, that’s the experience that I had this week that I learned a lot from, now we can move on to happier and/or more focused things for the week!
We did have another lesson with Maria and Jamie and that went really well; we taught the Restoration and we had a member there and it was amazing to see how well she and Maria got along – they literally seem like best friends. The Spirit was definitely there and we are really making progress (with Maria mostly, Jamie is still set on going to his church for now). In other news we had a Jehovah’s Witness knock on our door while we were doing studies in the morning and that was really interesting. He was older and nice and he recognized who we were right away so he just talked with us a bit and didn’t even say that he was a Jehovah’s Witness (I just saw the pamphlets in his suit pocket that he was passing out). He shared a scripture with us and then left. At least he was like one I met in my first zone who threatened to kill you.
As of January 24 I have reached my half-way point of my mission. It’s crazy how fast time goes; I really enjoy being here.

Sister Reese